By Igor Derysh, April 2, 2014
If you thought the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling was bad, you’re not going to like SCOTUS’ decision on McCutcheon v. Federal Election Committee.
On Wednesday, the Supreme Court issued a 5-4 historic ruling, overturning the existing laws on campaign donor limits, allowing individuals to contribute as much as $3.6 million to parties and candidates per election cycle. Under the previous laws, no individual could contribute more than $123,200 to political candidates and committees every two years. An individual could previously only contribute $48,600 to individual candidates. They can now donate to an unlimited amount of candidates.
The ruling does not affect the $2,600 donor limit that an individual can contribute to an individual candidate for Congress or President. The ruling does, however, allow an individual to contribute more to a party or group that could then funnel that money to an individual candidate’s campaign.
Critics of the ruling argue that the decision will allow the 1 percent to essentially buy elections, taking what little influence middle class constituents have away for good.
Democratic Congressman John Larson, the top Democratic campaign finance reform leader, told reporters that “Today, the Supreme Court again moved to hand our elections to the wealthiest among us by allowing political donors the ability to offer the maximum contribution to an unlimited number of federal campaigns.”
Chief Justice John Roberts disagrees, saying that the limits “intrude without justification on a citizen’s ability to exercise `the most fundamental First Amendment activities.”
“The government has a strong interest, no less critical to our democratic system, in combating corruption and its appearance,” Roberts said. “We have, however, held that this interest must be limited to a specific kind of corruption — quid pro quo corruption — in order to ensure that the government’s efforts do not have the effect of restricting the First Amendment right of citizens to choose who shall govern them.”
Justice Clarence Thomas wrote a separate opinion, arguing that all contribution limits should be eliminated.
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