The Republican National Committee filed a lawsuit last week challenging campaign contribution limits set by the federal government, continuing the party’s efforts to dismantle the laws restricting money in political campaigns. The suit challenges the cap on the total amount of money that one person may give to political candidates, parties and some types of political action committees during a two-year election cycle. The RNC lawsuit, filed Friday in U.S. District Court in Washington, is the latest in a series of cases brought by conservatives challenging laws that restrict how elections are funded. So far, they have found a largely receptive audience at the Supreme Court under Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., most notably with the 2010 Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission.
The ruling allowed unfettered corporate spending on elections and, by extension, the creation of super PACs, which are spending million-dollar contributions in this year’s presidential contest. The Citizens United decision was a big boost to interest groups, weakening the ability of campaigns and parties to compete with them. The current challenge would restore some of the balance by removing restrictions on the political parties.
Current law dictates that one person may give no more than $2,500 to a political candidate in one election, and $30,800 each year to one political party committee, such as the RNC. The new court case doesn’t challenge those limits, but targets another one: the overall cap of $117,000 in each election cycle, along with separate caps for the total amount one person can give to candidates and to parties. Contributions to super PACs are not included in the caps.