SCOTUS “Opens Floodgates,” Strikes Down Donation Limits


The Washington Post reports, and you'll be seeing the impact soon:

A split Supreme Court Wednesday struck down limits on the total amount of money an individual may spend on political candidates as a violation of free speech rights, a decision sure to increase the role of money in political campaigns.

The 5 to 4 decision sparked a sharp dissent from liberal justices, who said the decision reflects a wrong-headed hostility to campaign finance laws that the court’s conservatives showed in Citizens United v. FEC , which allowed corporate spending on elections.

“If Citizens United opened a door,” Justice Stephen G. Breyer said in reading his dissent from the bench, “today’s decision we fear will open a floodgate.”

The ruling doesn't get rid of the individual federal candidate contribution limit of $2,600, but it does strike down the aggregate limit of $48,600 in hard money donations to candidates in a two-year election cycle. That means wealthy donors to candidates won't have to pick and choose who to donate to to stay under an overall cap. Now, at least in theory, everybody can have a check.

In an era where unlimited soft money has already made candidates' own fundraising of secondary importance in overall political spending, this decision will likely have an incremental not sweeping effect. But for those of you who would prefer less money flooding the political system–which is, not surprisingly, usually people without as much money–this was not a good decision for your small-d democracy.


37 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. n3bn3b says:

    Free speech! Too bad for you, libs.

  2. Tom says:

    After Sheldon Adelson's dog show in Vegas the other day for GOP hopefuls looking to score a patron, this decision is going to cause some hurt feelings for sure. If a guy with essentially unlimited funds to donate to campaigns and no regulation forcing him to be strategic about it still doesn't decide to back you, then it's kind of personal isn't it?

  3. This would seem to be a problem with the squishy middle.

    The law as overturned set an arbitrary limit on multi-faceted contributions. The majority didn't see a good reason why the cap was set at the level it was set overall, especially since the contribution limits were so varied by just what campaign or PACs you donated to. Since they can't make new law, they struck down what was in front of them.

    Of course, the intent of the law was to prevent one donor from unduly influencing the entirety of the national election through direct campaign contributions, and IMHO the current law did at least set that boundary.

    Ironically, if the law had limited direct campaign donations to the donor's resident district, it might have passed the Court's scrutiny. (One person, one vote could have been invoked, for example.)

  4. DavidThi808DavidThi808 says:

    Open up the floodgates and let the money spew forth. Let the political ads on TV become so gigantic that everyone tunes them all out.

    The money will find a way because the ROI on the investment is incredible. The trick is not to limit the money, the trick is to reduce its impact.

  5. Diogenesdemar says:

    Snatch this pebble donation from my hand, Grasshopper . . .

  6. Duke CoxDuke Cox says:

    There has to be a connection to assholes and rope and that sort of thing going on here. Aunt Ruby just dumped the slop bucket in the trough, them hogs is a’gonna go wild.

  7. Meiner49erMeiner49er says:

    Part of me is hoping this turns out to be the biggest Ponzi scheme/wealth redistribution program in the history of the country.  Billionaires will be fleeced by political operatives with promises of "buying the government" they want, and then when events in Washington take their Constitutionally designed course of accomplishing next to nothing, Members will say "what could we do?"  Members will then laugh all the way to their fat campaign bank accounts where their incumbency will make them impervious to even the Adelson's of the world.  My concern then is NOT that the billionaires will rule, but that the rulers will be billionaires.


  8. Duke CoxDuke Cox says:

    Rule by billionaires…think Russia. No wonder our right wingers are so in love with Vladimir Putin. Corporate mafia have taken over there….we're next, I guess.

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