On our Oct. 9 hour on the Supreme Court's deliberations over limits to financial contributions in Federal elections featured a variety of voices and opinions, including the opinion of the McCutcheon himself of the case's title. Shaun McCutcheon, an Alabama businessman who has actively supported Conservative political causes in and beyond his home state and who hopes to expand the number of candidates to whom he can directly offer money, filed suit against the Federal Election Commission in order to expand the number of individual races to which he could donate money.
McCutcheon spoke with host Tom Ashbrook about his reasons for bringing his legal challenge all the way to the Supreme Court of the United States.
It's basic freedom of speech and right to political assembly. And again, this is about donating directly to, you know, as many candidates and committees as you choose. I don't think you all have been talking about, say, a challenger who can't self fund, but might be a great manager in politics. The challengers are the ones that have trouble raising money because of these limitations. And A lot of the candidates I donated to did not win, so I don't see how you can call that influence when the candidate didn't even make it out of the primary. I'm talking about supporting more candidates, including primaries and run offs and things like that.
McCutcheon stressed that concerns over the potential for the total removal of spending limits on Federal elections as a result of his case were overblown.
No I do not worry. This is a case about the aggregate limits, not the base limits. The base limits and the committee rules and the PAC rules all those things that are in place take care of the corruption argument. This is about donating to more candidates and more committees and spending your money however you choose...
This is about free speech. This is about getting your message out into the marketplace of ideas. All Americans are entitled to free speech. So you know, money does not necessarily guarantee that a candidate will be elected. It just allows them to advertise, and get their message out and allows people to get to know [sic] 'em and hear their ideas. This is promoting and improving democracy, not limiting it. This is about changing the world for the better...
Again, all Americans are entitled to free speech. Both sides — all sides, there's more than two — have donors who can donate and advertise. This is about free speech. More speech and more ideas is not gonna hurt anything.
McCutcheon was very concious of some public criticism about his motives in the case — several members of Congress submitted amicus curiae, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) — and stressed that his aim in the case is to expand the aggregate number of races to which a donor can contribute.
Again, this is about more candidates and more committees. If say, my ninth race was an Alabama House race and I wanted to donate to a tenth Senate race in North Carolina in both the primary and... It's about more candidates and more committees. This is about aggregate limits, not base limits.
McCutcheon — and many court reporters, for that matter — seemed to feel that the Justices were likely to rule in his favor.
Yes I found it very interesting. The humor was in the courtroom was inspiring, it exceeded expectations. I heard a lot of great ideas. I was very impressed with the Court and the process.
What do you think? Is that what free speech ought to mean? Blast away with all the bucks you've got? Will this Court endorse that vision of the American democratic process? Leave your comments below, or let us know how you feel on Facebook, Tumblr or @OnPointRadio.
This program aired on October 9, 2013. The audio for this program is not available.