A lawsuit challenging the Federal Election Commission’s (FEC) limits on how much people can contribute to political campaigns is on its way to the Supreme Court, and the Libertarian National Committee is supporting that challenge. The LNC has joined a coalition of other political groups in signing on to an amicus brief in the McCutcheon v. FEC case, which could finish the work began by Citizens United v. FEC in 2010, further abolishing restrictions on political speech expenditures. The U.S. Supreme Court agreed on Feb. 19 to hear the case in its upcoming term, late in 2013 or early in 2014.
The Libertarian Party has always stood firmly in favor of the fundamental right to freedom of speech and freedom of the press represented by the First Amendment to the Constitution. A right to free speech is nearly meaningless if it’s not accompanied by the right to pay for the dissemination of one’s views, which is why the LP platform calls for “the repeal of all laws which restrict voluntary financing of election campaigns.”
McCutcheon v. FEC would reaffirm both the freedom of speech and the freedom of association in the context of political discourse, by removing the limit on individual and corporate direct contributions to political campaigns. Deregulating and repealing campaign finance laws are central to the Libertarian Party’s advocacy of constitutional rights and a small, accountable government.
The primary defense for campaign finance restrictions comes from incumbent politicians who argue that they are helping to create “fairer practices” in the political system. However, for William J. Olson, P.C., the author of the amicus brief, this argument only veils the desires of incumbent politicians to further stack the electoral deck in their favor.
“One of the dirty little secrets of politics is that incumbents have rigged almost every law that bears on elections to favor establishment candidates,” he wrote.
Olson’s amicus brief for the LNC and several other groups urges the court to overturn years of prior meddling in campaign contribution rights.
“As explained herein, the Court should re-analyze the contribution limits based on the text of the First Amendment, without reference to judicially created interest-balancing tests,” the brief asserts. “Instead of engaging in interest balancing, this Court should cast off the ‘baggage’ that has collected around the First Amendment. If it does that, it can reach no conclusion other than that the federal election contribution limits at issue herein are unconstitutional.”