The Supreme Court struck down putting a cap on campaign spending limits in a 5 to 4 decision Wednesday. The ruling means wealthy donors can contribute an unlimited amount of funds to candidates and political committees. The limit remains at $5200 per election a donor can give to an individual candidate, but the new ruling expands the law to include an unlimited number of candidates contributions can be given.
The court struck down the $123,000 aggregate limit an individual can give to candidates during any given election cycle.
“There is no right more basic in our democracy than the right to participate in electing our political leaders,” Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. wrote in the court’s main opinion. “We have made clear that Congress may not regulate contributions simply to reduce the amount of money in politics, or to restrict the political participation of some in order to enhance the relative influence of others.”
Hans von Spakovsky, legal fellow with the Heritage Foundation, contends the Supreme Court’s ruling applied only to federal candidates, but the constitutional principle on which the Court based its ruling will allow individuals to challenge any state laws that have similar restrictions for state elections.
“Giving money to a candidate is an exercise of an individual’s right to participate in the electoral process through both political expression and political association—you are exercising your First Amendment right to express your support for particular candidates and the ideology they represent, as well as to associate with them politically,” said Spakovsky. “When you restrict a candidate’s ability to raise or spend money, you are restricting his or her ability to speak.”
Jeffrey Toobin, CNN senior legal analyst and author of "The Oath: The Obama White House and the Supreme Court," says the decision allows the wealthy more control over government and the electoral process.
“The decision gives rich people more power to influence campaigns. It expands the influence of people who have a lot of money to give, wrote Toobin. “The end of the $123,200 overall limit means that people who have even more money to spend have more ways to spend it.”