An effort to remove the limits on total campaign contributions by a single donor is before the Supreme Court. Progressives predict the elimination will lead to an estimated $1 billion increase in giving over the next seven years by the top 1,219 donors from the 2012 election.

The limits, which currently restrict individual donors to giving no more than $123,200 during the 2014 election cycle, will be challenged in the case of McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission on Oct. 8. The case was brought by Alabama business owner Shaun McCutcheon and joined by the Republican National Committee. McCutcheon says the limits are an unconstitutional restriction of his First Amendment rights.

The progressive groups Demos and U.S. PIRG say the increase would make political campaigns even more dependent on the biggest contributors and further reduce the influence of small donors.

Dan Cantor, executive director of the Working Families Party, was quoted in The Huffington Post worrying about the future. “We are fast approaching a point where politics is becoming a disagreement among rich people,” he said.

— Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.

The Huffington Post:

“If the court does decide to throw out precedent and side with the plaintiffs, it would make this problem significantly worse,” Blair Bowie, democracy advocate at U.S. PIRG, said in a conference call to announce the report.

The report looks at the 1,219 donors who gave within 10 percent of the aggregate limits during the 2012 election cycle. Those donors combined to contribute $155.2 million to candidates, political parties and political action committees and, according to the report, would have given an estimated $459.3 million if the aggregate limits had not existed.

Such an increase, the report argues, “would significantly strengthen the power of a tiny number of elite donors compared with small contributions.”

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