SCOTUS Strikes Down Aggregate Limits on Political Contributions

The wealthy will be able to spread dough to as many political candidates as they like following a ruling by SCOTUS today,  the NYT reports:

SupremesThe decision, by a 5-to-4 vote along ideological lines, was sort of a sequel to Citizens United, the 2010 decision that struck down limits on independent campaign spending by corporations and unions. But that ruling did nothing to disturb the other main form of campaign finance regulation: caps on direct contributions to candidates and political parties.

Wednesday’s decision in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, No. 12-536, addressed that second kind of regulation.

It did not disturb familiar base limits on contributions from individuals to candidates, currently $2,600 per candidate in primary and general elections.

But it said that overall limits of $48,600 every two years for contributions to all federal candidates violated the First Amendment, as did separate aggregate limits on contributions to political party committees, currently $74,600.

The Washington Post has put up a helpful primer on the case and decision.

Your thoughts?


  1. Dan Antimony says

    It seems like an inevitable consequence of having a relatively fixed constitution written in the 18th century.

    It’s not the judges’ fault that the law didn’t anticipate mass media technology.

  2. will says

    I don’t know how you connect unlimited cash donations to free speech — but that’s what’s in the majority opinion. “Money is speech”.

  3. JackFknTwist says

    The Constitution most in need of reform.But it will never happen; not even a Constitutional Convention to discuss the possibility of reforms.

    There isn’t another Madison to beat the heads of the South Carolinians …..and others.

  4. JackFknTwist says

    Conclusion : not all votes are equal.

    Buying votes is an acceptable practice; so the ‘pocket boroughs’ of 17th and 18th century England have made a return in the ‘home of the brave’.

  5. LincolnLounger says

    Oh, good Lord. Stop with the vapors and pearl-clutching, please, and read the facts.

    This is actually good news. Better that these contributions go directly to candidates and Party committees and are transparent as opposed to shadowy Super PACs and (c) organizations.

    Those who care about political parties will welcome this decisions as it will be especially beneficial to federal and state political committees.

  6. David says

    So now we have to make sure that all the little piggies are wasting their money by getting out the vote, running for office and otherwise being as active in politics as we can.

  7. Jimbo says

    We, and I mean LGBT people, are in big trouble. The right wing bible crowd have more money than brains and aren’t afraid to throw it away to get what they want.

  8. Keith says

    Well, welcome to a Republican majority in all branches of government for the foreseeable future. . .and only wealthy voices will be heard and politicians will be bought by the highest contributed (or bidder). Now we just have to wait for the Hobby Lobby case to be ruled, and then corporations can force employees to follow all the “deeply held” religious beliefs of the owners and corporate boards. I agree with Jimbo, the horse is out of the barn, and it will take many major scandals before the American public will be willing to put it back in the stable. . .and the LGBT community will be the first to pay the price.

  9. says

    Sure seems funny that this comes down right before an election time. Makes one wonder if the conservative justices on the court knew their party is all but dead and wanted to make sure they’d win all future elections by hook or by crook.

  10. Buster says

    WAYNEMPLS – It’s ALWAYS “just before an election time.” The House is elected every two years as is one-third of the Senate.

    As for the rest of you, it’s a terribly frustrating result, but it is also probably a correct reading of the Constitution (unfortunately.) “Political” speech is pretty clearly what the drafters most strongly wanted protected by the First Amendment. AND, fortunately for all of us, the Supreme Court has long interpreted the word “speech” in a liberal way, especially when used to make a political point — meaning that almost any action that is meant to support a candidate or position can be interpreted as “speech” including a rights march, wearing a pair of flag underwear pants, “sit-ins,” silent candle vigils, donating money to unpopular or even “immoral” causes, like gay rights or equal marriage, etc.

    I fully support limiting/changing the funding of political campaigns, but the way it’s going to have to happen is with a Constitutional amendment. That isn’t the fault of the Supreme Court.

  11. Perry says

    God. Now they need to strike down the limit anyone can donate to any candidate and mandate that these donations are clearly posted for everyone to see.

  12. Perry says

    And when people say they are “buying” votes, then you are saying people are too stupid. If this is true, then you should be advocating intelligence tests because guess what, Democratic and Republican votes are both equally “bought”.

  13. anon says

    To clarify the ruling: SCOTUS has eliminated the rules that limit what an individual can contribute in total during a campaign to all candidates. They have not eliminated the limit on how much a candidate can spend on one campaign.

  14. says

    For all of you complaining… if you do not always vote in national elections… you have no right to complain. There is a possibility that the bigoted Republicans could take back the Senate in the next election. Kiss progress goodby and gay rights,abortion rights and common sense goodby… and that would be only the beginning of the end of liberal causes.

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