Supreme Court Justices ruled 5-4 today in a decision written by Chief Justice John Roberts, which places limits on the total amount of money donors can give to all candidates, committees and political parties as unconstitutional. The decision leaves in place the $2,600 base limit on what can be given to each individual campaign. The decision was a victory for the Republican National Committee, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, and Alabama businessman Shaun McCutcheon, who challenged the $123,200 cap on contributions an individual can give to all federal candidates, parties and political action committees in a two-year election cycle.
McCutcheon’s challenge did not extend to the $2,600 limit, the amount a donor can give to a federal candidate in each primary and general election or the $32,400 limit that can be contributed to a national party committee. Those limits, which guard against corruption, are at the root of the federal law.
Campaigns who had long been told by high net worth individuals that they have reached their over all giving limit and cannot contribute to their campaign, will no longer hear that objection.
For those candidates who have relationships with these wealthy donors, they could see an up-tick in the amount of dollars given to their campaigns.
The limits on campaign contributions had stood for nearly 40 years. The high court drew a distinction between those contributions, which it said could lead to corruption, and money spent independently in its landmark 1976 Buckley v. Valeo ruling. Independent spending was expanded in the Citizens United case to include unlimited spending by corporations and labor unions.
Chief Justice Roberts said “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.”