WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court has agreed to go beyond its controversial Citizens United decision and consider striking down the limit on the total amount that wealthy persons may give to candidates and political parties.
The justices voted to hear an appeal from an Alabama donor and the Republican National Committee, which contends the total contribution limit of $123,200 per election cycle is "unconstitutionally low."
The case will focus on a little-known part of the campaign finance laws that set a total limit on donations by individuals. Under these laws, individuals may give no more than $123,200 for each two-year election cycle. This includes a $2,500 limit for a federal candidate running for office and up to $30,800 per year to the political committees established by the national parties.
Last year, a Washington court upheld the limits on the grounds that the Supreme Court has consistently said donations to candidates can be restricted.
But the high court has said individuals may spend freely for political ads and campaign messages. Three years ago, the court cited this free-spending rule in the Citizens United decision and ruled that corporate groups and unions may spend unlimited sums to back candidates.
That decision did not affect the limits on direct contributions to candidates and parties.
The new case is not an attack on the limits on what an individual may give to a single candidate. The court will decide whether Congress had a valid justification for limiting an individual's total contributions to candidates and parties.
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