Issues adjudicated in the Supreme Court often involve the most publicly sensitive and explosive issues of our day. Those who wade into these waters have two worries. First, will the High Court rule our way? Second, how do we prevail in the larger debate swirling throughout the country even as the Justices deliberate?
Shaun McCutcheon passionately opposed aggregate limits on campaign financing and launched a legal campaign to end them. There was nothing in his position to justify a caricature of McCutcheon as a zealot on some mission to concentrate power in the hands of an oligarchy. Yet by the time McCutcheon v. FEC reached the Supreme Court, he had become the poster boy for influence-peddling.
The task was clear: change and then control the narrative. LEVICK guided McCutcheon to become the First Amendment guardian. Online and in print, his message prevailed. The tide turned and public perceptions flipped upside-down. McCutcheon became the champion for underdogs seeking a voice in the political process.
On April 2, 2014, a 5-4 Supreme Court ruling struck down the aggregate limits, the biggest campaign case the High Court ruled on since Citizens United. Absent a resolute communications strategy, the split decision might have gone the other way. McCutcheon was now more folk hero than villain–and even a welcome participant in the latest FEC rule-making.
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