In exciting news this morning for rich tech titans (and others) yearning to write bigger checks to political candidates, the Supreme Court struck down limits on the total amount of money donors can give to political candidates.
In a narrow 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court threw out the limits, saying that they were a violation of free speech rights. The court’s conservative justices wrote the majority opinion, with Chief Justice John Roberts arguing that contribution limits were an unfair restriction on donors’ free speech rights.
“Money in politics may at times seem repugnant to some, but so too does much of what the First Amendment vigorously protects,” Roberts wrote in the decision.
The decision does not strike down caps on contributions to individual candidates, just overall donations. But it means that donors won’t face limits to the number of federal candidates to whom they would be able to make contributions. Donors were previously limited to contributing $123,200 to federal candidates during a two-year contribution cycle.
The court had previously tossed limits on contributions to so-called super PACs and other independent political groups which can run ads to help candidates even if they can’t coordinate their efforts.
Campaign finance activists blasted the decision, saying it give the rich an even greater influence over American politics than they already have.
The Supreme Court’s “Citizens United” ruling four years ago opened up the floodgates for unlimited spending in our elections, and now it might as well have tied a big bow around Congress and deliver it to the 1%,” said the Sunlight Foundation, an open government advocacy group, in a statement.
The decision is likely to be particularly helpful to federal political party committees since it frees them to solicit larger donations from deep-pocketed individuals.
The Republican National Committee said Wednesday that the decision was “an important first step toward restoring the voice of candidates and party committees.” Its counterpart, the Democratic National Committee, didn’t immediately have comment on the decision.