The U.S. Supreme Court released its decision yesterday (March 2) in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission. The issue in the case was the aggregate contributions limits that restrict how much money an individual can donate to a candidate and committees during a two-year election cycle. In a contentious 5-4 decision, the Court struck down the aggregate limits on First Amendment grounds.
In this audio, Christopher Seaman, assistant professor of law at Washington and Lee University, provides background on the decision and assesses its impact.
"The impact is limited but significant," says Seaman. "It's limited because it affects the top 1 percent, people who are able to donate in excess of $123,000."
Another important ramification, Seaman says, is that this decision might actually result in more disclosure of campaign related expenditures by wealthy individuals.
"Because individuals can donate more money directly to candidates rather than to Super PACs, which are not required to disclose their donors, it might result in more transparency about money being spent in elections."
Seaman joined the Washington and Lee law faculty in 2012. His research and teaching interests include intellectual property (IP) law and civil procedure, with a particular focus on IP litigation and remedies for the violation of IP rights. He received his B.A. in 2000 from Swarthmore College and his J.D. in 2004 from the University of Pennsylvania Law School, where he was an Executive Editor of the University of Pennsylvania Law Review and received the Edwin R. Keedy Law Review Award.