High Court Rules Against Political Spending Limits

The Supreme Court strikes down overall limits on personal political campaign contributions. We’ll look at the court’s vision of wide-open, big-money politics.

Republican activist Shaun McCutcheon of Hoover, Ala., right, leaves the Supreme Court in Washington, Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2013, after the court's hearing on campaign finance. The court ruled in his favor on April 2, 2014, greatly reducing U.S. restrictions on campaign finance. (AP)

Republican activist Shaun McCutcheon of Hoover, Ala., right, leaves the Supreme Court in Washington, Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2013, after the court’s hearing on campaign finance. The court ruled in his favor on April 2, 2014, greatly reducing U.S. restrictions on campaign finance. (AP)

If Nazis can march in America and protestors can burn the American flag, said the chief justice of the US Supreme Court yesterday, then surely the First Amendment also protects big money contributions in American politics.  And with that, the Roberts court tore another huge cap off American campaign finance controls.  If you’re rich enough, you can now pour millions directly into whatever political party coffers you please.  Supporters call it freedom.  Critics call it the further hijacking of American democracy.  This hour On Point:  the high court’s move on big money politics.

— Tom Ashbrook


David Savage, U.S. Supreme Court correspondent for the Los Angeles Times. (@davidgsavage)

Shaun McCutcheon, plaintiff in McCutcheon vs. Federal Election Commission and CEO of Coalmont Electrical Development Company in McCalla, AL. (@GenConservative)

Bradley Smith, chairman of the Center for Competitive Politics and Visiting Copenhaver Chair of Law at West Virginia University.

Fred Wertheimer, founder and president of Democracy 21, a non-profit that advocates for transparency in government and campaign finance reform. (@FredWertheimer)

From Tom’s Reading List

Los Angeles Times: Supreme Court lifts overall limits on congressional campaign donations “In a 5-4 decision, the court’s conservative majority struck down Watergate-era aggregate limits that barred political donors from giving more than $123,000 a year in total to candidates running for seats in the House of Representatives or Senate. The court said this limit violated the free-speech rights of the donors, and it was not needed to prevent ‘corruption’ of the political process.

The Wall Street Journal: Supreme Court Strikes Down Aggregate Campaign Contribution Limits –“The court left intact the limits on the amount an individual can give to specific candidates and political committees, currently $5,200 to a candidate for the primary and general elections, with higher limits to political committees. Chief Justice Roberts wrote that Congress’s interest in fighting corruption doesn’t justify the burden on political speech posed by aggregate limits.”

POLITICO: Supreme Court strikes down aggregate campaign giving limits — “The sweeping ruling has the potential to once again reshape the campaign finance landscape — bringing more campaign money back under the control of political parties after four years of record spending by outside groups.”

Read The Supreme Court’s Decision In McCutcheon vs. F.E.C.

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