The Court that brought you the Citizens United decision, upholding the concept of “corporate personhood” and allowing corporations and unions to spend unlimited money independently to influence elections, today struck down federal limits on overall campaign contributions the biggest individual donors may make to candidates, political parties and political action committees. Your $35 check, even your $1,000 check, is now worth maybe a little less in the new world of how campaigns are paid for.
Though the contribution limits to candidates for president or Congress stays the same – $2,600 – the Court decided that limits on the total amount given are unconstitutional. This removes the ceiling for wealthy donors, who no longer have to add up all their checks written to make sure they haven’t exceeded the cap currently set by the federal government.
It was a 5-4 decision, with Chief Justice Roberts writing the decision. The Court found that the limits violate the First Amendment rights of contributors. It’s a green light to superwealthy donors. They, and everyone else have been restricted from giving no more than $48,600 to federal candidates, and $74,600 to political action committees during a two-year election cycle, for a maximum of $123,200. Those limits were part of post-Watergate reforms, to make it harder for big contributors to buy elections with their outsized wallets, and to restore public confidence in campaign finance.
We’re moving backwards now.
The victory goes to Shaun McCutcheon, an Alabama businessman and GOP activist who challenged the cap on contributions. The RNC is already on record cheering the decision.
Here’s the decision – McCutcheon et al vs. Federal Election Commission.
Here’s a list of federal primary candidates on the NJ ballot.
Mother Jones walks through the implications.
Washington Post has the decision’s Winners & Losers.
Always worth reading – SCOTUSblog. Also, their live-blog from this morning.