The court’s four liberal justices appeared inclined to uphold the limits at issue.
McCutcheon, owner of the Coalmont Electrical Development Corp. in McCalla, Ala., said he will spend a few hundred thousand dollars in the current election cycle, including large donations to so-called super PACs that are not affiliated with candidates.
In 2011 and 2012, McCutcheon gave a symbolically significant $1,776 — the year of the Declaration of Independence — to 15 candidates for Congress and wanted to give the same amount to 12 others. But doing so would have put him in violation of the overall cap.
The Republican challengers are asking the court to take an even more aggressive approach than merely overturning these particular limits. McConnell is leading the charge to urge the justices to ditch their practice over nearly 40 years of evaluating limits on contributions less skeptically than restrictions on spending.
The differing levels of scrutiny have allowed the court to uphold most contribution limits, because of the potential for corruption in large direct donations to candidates. At the same time, the court has found that independent spending does not pose the same risk of corruption and has applied a higher level of scrutiny to laws that seek to limit spending.