The Wall Street Journal: Notable & Quotable


October 9, 2013

Justice Scalia asks about limits on aggregate campaign contributions during oral arguments in McCutcheon v. Federal Election.

From oral arguments at the Supreme Court on Tuesday in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, a case challenging limits on aggregate campaign contributions. Lawyer Bobby Burchfield argued against the caps:

Justice Scalia: Counsel, is it—is it correct that the consequence of this provision has been very severe with respect to national political parties?

Mr. Burchfield: It is, Your Honor, particularly in the current environment where the national political parties are—are being marginalized by outside forces.

Justice Scalia: And—and much of the money that used to go to them now goes to PACs; isn’t that what has happened?

Mr. Burchfield: Exactly right, Your Honor.

Justice Scalia: So that this is really, you know, turning the dials on—on regulating elections. Now, I ask myself, why would—why would members of Congress want to hurt their political parties? And I answer—I answer to myself—


Justice Scalia: —well, ordinarily, the national political parties will devote their money to elections in those States where the incumbent has a good chance of losing. So, in fact, if you’re an incumbent who cares about political parties, I don’t want money to go to my opponents. And if you—if you turn down the amount of money that the national political parties have, that’s that much less money that can be devoted against you if you’re challenged in a close race. Isn’t that the consequence of this?