Federal Politics

Published — April 2, 2014 Updated — June 30, 2014 at 3:42 pm ET

Supreme Court opens door to flood of political cash — again

Roberts cites First Amendment in 5-4 decision overturning aggregate limits

Introduction

The U.S. Supreme Court today issued an opinion that is likely to further increase the flow of big money into politics.

In a 5-4 decision, the high court’s conservative-leaning justices struck down aggregate contribution limits to candidates and parties but kept base limits intact.

“The government may no more restrict how many candidates or causes a donor may support than it may tell a newspaper how many candidates it may endorse,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for the majority in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission.

Thus, at the federal level, a donor may still only give no more than $2,600 to a candidate per election, no more than $5,000 per year to a single PAC and no more than $32,400 to a national party committee. But there is no longer a limit on how many candidates, party committees or PACs a single donor can financially support.

The decision is the most important since the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission case in 2010, which allowed for unlimited corporate and union spending in races, a decision which led to the creation of super PACs — groups that cannot directly contribute to candidates’ campaigns but can spend money on uncoordinated advertisements encouraging people to vote for or against candidates.

“Money in politics may at times seem repugnant to some, but so too does much of what the First Amendment vigorously protects,” Roberts continued. “If the First Amendment protects flag burning, funeral protests and Nazi parades — despite the profound offense such spectacles cause — it surely protects political campaign speech despite popular opposition.”

Roberts was joined in the decision by Justices Samuel Alito, Anthony Kennedy and Antonin Scalia. Justice Clarence Thomas concurred, but he argued the court should go even further.

In a blistering dissent, Justice Stephen Breyer wrote that the majority’s conclusion relies on “faulty” legal analysis and “understates the importance of protecting the political integrity of our governmental institutions.”

Taken together with Citizens United, he wrote, “today’s decision eviscerates our nation’s campaign finance laws, leaving a remnant incapable of dealing with the grave problems of democratic legitimacy that those laws were intended to resolve.”

Breyer was joined in his dissent by Justices Elena Kagan, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor.

Until today, an individual donor could contribute no more than $2,600 per candidate per election, with a primary election and the general election counting as separate contests. At the same time, individuals were prohibited from contributing more than $48,600 to all federal candidates.

Donors were further subjected to an additional $74,600 aggregate limit on how much they could give to all parties and political action committees, meaning one person could give no more than $123,200 during the two-year election cycle.

During the 2012 election cycle, about 600 individuals hit the aggregate limit on donations to candidates, according to data provided to the Center for Public Integrity by the Center for Responsive Politics. And about 1,700 people hit the aggregate limit on donations to political parties.

More of these big-dollar donors favored Republicans with their giving than Democrats.

The Supreme Court’s McCutcheon decision is also likely to increase the flow of money into state elections.

A dozen states and the District of Columbia impose aggregate limits of one form or another on campaign contributions, according to David Mitrani, an attorney at the Washington, D.C.-based firm Sandler, Reiff, Young & Lamb.

Aggregate contribution limits in the states “are unlikely to survive under the logic of the McCutcheon opinion,” Mitrani told the Center for Public Integrity.

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SOUTH JERSEYTed SiroisMark SullivanTom LarkinAnonymous Recent comment authors
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Mark Sullivan
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Mark Sullivan

Trump needs to conduct these activities because the entire MSM media, excluding Fox, is campaigning against him 24/7/365.

Didn’t Monica’s boyfriend’s wife and various criminal enterprises outspend Trump by almost 2-1?

CapitalistRoader
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CapitalistRoader

Why wouldn’t he get an early start on fund raising? Hillary outspent him two-to-one in 2016. The Dem’s are the party of big money. The President knows this and is attempting to get a jump on it. Of course the Dem candidate will outspend him in 2020 so it’s only rational that he starts fund raising now.

George Young
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George Young

Oh brother. We just 8 years of the Campaigner – in – Chief. Where was this journalistic rectal thermometer then. Just another article about 2000 words too long that merely takes another slap at Trump for something he far from initiated.

j stevenson
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j stevenson

The big difference between Trump and all the rest is his refusing to accept funds from lobbyists, so they don’t have the White House access they are used to. These are the donors who buy the presidency and are as pixxed off that he won the election as are the media and the Dems. Lobbyists have never been shut out of the WH and Trump has told them he is not for sale.

jan v
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jan v

all the lobbyists are running all our government agencies and all the career civil servants who know how to run the country have been fired. YOU think this is a good thing ? what a crock…

thomas alessi
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thomas alessi

I am for Trump

Martin Shellabarger
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J. Stevenson, what are you drinking? Trump has more lobbyists in his administration than probably any other president. Trump is totally “for sale”, and the corporations know it. Grow a brain!

Anonymous
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Anonymous

Trump needs to be impeached and tossed in prison. Then have the key thrown away so he will never be free. Then he can see how it feels not to have freedom.

Mark Sullivan
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Mark Sullivan

Thank you for the usual insightful leftist low IQ Snowflake response.

barney
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hes not imprisoning them hes sending them back to their country chill tf out

SOUTH JERSEY
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SOUTH JERSEY

WHY DONT YOU HAVE FREEDOM?

Tom Larkin
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Tom Larkin

First, something positive. I was happy to learn of empirical information in article. BUT, the article was so slanted against President Trump as to be deemed fake news (“Perhaps Trump just lied.” (Two different issues)). The article mentions that President Trump raised over $67 million, but ended 2018 with $19 million. President Trump spent over $40 million 2016 and 2017. President Trump conducted 57 political rallies. The article notes the hats and T-shirts sold, but NEVER MENTIONS THE INCREASE IN THE NUMBER OF REPUBLICAN SENATORS during a mid-term election that lost the House and the number of political rallies in… Read more »

Ted Sirois
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Ted Sirois

At least Trump is getting donations from willing donors. Fresh from his first election, Obama used billions of our children’s tax dollars to save thousands of union jobs in the car industry and bailed out the banks and many Wall Street businesses. This secured his source of reelection funds for his reelection four years later.

South Jersey
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South Jersey

TRUMP 2020; IS AN AMAZINGLY SMART MAN! VERY ORIGINAL & CREATIVE. I AM HAPPY TO HAVE HIS AS POTUS.

SOUTH JERSEY
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SOUTH JERSEY

THIS ARTICLE WAS OBVIOUSLY WRITTEN BY, A TRUMP-HATE-GROUP. THAT FEELS; IT IS NOT NORMAL TO BE SUCCESSFUL WITH YOUR OWN BRAND NAME. WHEN, IF FACT, IT IS NORMAL! >>>>> THIS IS >>> FAKE NEWS!!! <<<< ie: A PACK-OF-LIES; SPUN INTO; DEFAMATION OF CHARACTER. FOR A SINISTER-AGENDA OF; FASCIST DEMOCRATIC SOCIALIST, COUP D'ETAT

David
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David

Are you on some kind of drugs? Writing in caps makes me think that you are grumpy old fart or a uneducated hillbilly.