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Court Eyes Contribution Limits

The Supreme Court could soon decide if limits on political campaign donations should be overturned.
(NBC News) A case before the Supreme Court today could increase the amount donors can spend on campaign contributions.

One Alabama man says a current spending cap, intended to prevent political corruption, is violating his right to free speech.

The case could allow wealthy donors to spend a limitless amount of money.

But political watch dogs say removing the current limits would give some a corrupt and unfair influence during elections.

Protesters call the case a tug of war between big money and the average voter.

"In democracy size of your wallet should not determine the power of your voice," said Blair Bowie of the United States Public Interest Research Group. 

At issue, are caps to the sum total any one person can donate in a two-year election cycle currently at $123,200, but not the $2,600 limit on contributions to individual candidates.

"This is your right to support as many candidates as you choose with your money," said Shaun McCutcheon who is challenging the contribution limits. 

McCutcheon, along with the Republican National Committee, is challenging the cap.

The Alabama businessman says the total spending or "aggregate" limit prevents him from supporting as many candidates as he would like.

"It just doesn't make sense to continue to have limits where somebody can contribute to nine candidates but when they contribute to the tenth candidate there's something impermissible about that," said Erin Murphy who argued the case before the high court. 

In court, conservative justices seemed skeptical about the overall limits Chief Justice John Roberts said, ``We are telling him he can't make that contribution no matter how modest." 

But the court's four liberal justices seemed reluctant to lift the restrictions.

Now it's up to the justices to decide whether these caps intended to prevent corruption are also limiting free speech.

This is the first major campaign finance case the court has heard since 2010 when it removed limits to independent spending by corporations and labor unions in the Citizens United case.
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