The Slatest

SCOTUS Strikes Down Aggregate Campaign Donor Limits

The U.S. Supreme Court is shown from the dome of the U.S. Capitol during a media tour December 19, 2013 in Washington, D.C.

Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images

The Supreme Court is out this morning with its big ruling in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, which court watchers had billed as everything from the “blockbuster money-in-politics case of the current term” to a “sort of sequel to Citizens United,” via Politico:

The Supreme Court ruled, 5-4, that caps on the total amount of money an individual can give to political campaigns and PACs are unconstitutional.

The court’s Republican-appointed justices joined in overturning the so-called aggregate limits on the grounds that they violated the First Amendment. Democratic appointees dissented and said the limits were constitutional as a means to guard against corruption and circumvention of the still-valid limits on donations to individual campaigns and political committees.


According to SCOTUSBlog’s Amy Howe, who is live-blogging this morning’s action, the majority found that the aggregate limits do little to prevent “quid pro quo corruption or the appearance of such corruption,” and that, they say, was the only justification for the regulation in the first place.


The court’s four liberal justices, meanwhile, blasted the majority’s “faulty” logic and warned of the sweeping impact today’s ruling may have on federal elections. “Taken together with Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, today’s decision eviscerates our Nation’s campaign finance laws, leaving a remnant incapable of dealing with the grave problems of democratic legitimacy that those laws were intended to resolve,” they wrote in their dissent.

Given the 2014 midterms are right around the corner, we might not have to wait too long to find out if the dissenting justices’ fears prove true. For now, I’ll leave you with the measured words of the New York Times: “The ruling, issued near the start of a campaign season, will change and probably increase the role money plays in American politics.”

Slate will have much more on the ruling later, but in the meantime you can read the majority opinion here.

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