Political speech should have higher protection than “pornography, nude dancing and abortion,” brief says.
WASHINGTON, D.C. (May 13, 2013) — In an amicus brief filed May 8, the American Civil Rights Union argues that limits on campaign donations infringe on freedom of speech.
Written by ACRU General Counsel Peter Ferrara, the brief sides with plaintiff Shaun McCutcheon, who is appealing a September ruling by the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia upholding the federal campaign contribution law.
Mr. McCutcheon challenged the aggregate limit ($74,600) on contributions to non-candidate committees because he wanted to contribute $25,000 each to three Republican political committees during 2012. He also challenged the aggregate limit ($48,000) on contributions to candidate committees. Mr. McCutcheon had contributed $33,088 to federal candidates and wanted to contribute another $21,312.
“The liberty interests at issue in this case include the core First Amendment activity — political speech — and the fundamental liberty interest of freedom of association,” the ACRU brief states. “These core, fundamental, liberty interests of the First Amendment are entitled in our law to the highest possible protection — strict scrutiny.
“Under strict scrutiny, restrictions on political speech and political association can only be allowed where they are justified by a compelling state interest, and only where the restrictions are narrowly tailored to serve that interest,” the brief explains, noting that other types of speech and activity have been granted a First Amendment shield:
“Are we about to the point where we accord higher protection to pornography, nude dancing, and abortion than to the core political speech that has always been the foundation of our democracy?”
The case is Shaun McCutcheon and Federal Election Committee v. Federal Election Commission.