The U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday lifted the $48,600 cap for donors to federal candidates during two-year election cycles and the $74,600 cap to political party committees.
Donors are still only able to give a maximum $2,600 in primary and general elections to individual federal candidates. But donors would now be able to give the maximum contributions to an unlimited number of candidates.
The court's 5-4 ruling in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, follows the court's landmark 2010 decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which allowed corporations and labor unions to spend unlimited amounts of money on politics as long as the spending is not coordinated with candidates.
Here's how Chief Justice John Roberts framed the McCutcheon ruling, according to the New York Times:
They would be delighted to see fewer television commercials touting a candidate’s accomplishments or disparaging an opponent’s character. Money in politics may at times seem repugnant to some, but so, too, does much of what the First Amendment vigorously protects. If the First Amendment protects flag burning, funeral protests and Nazi parades — despite the profound offense such spectacles cause — it surely protects political campaign speech despite popular opposition.
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.
Common Cause condemned the court's ruling, arguing that the "Roberts court today continued its drive to give Americans a government of, by and for big money."
From Miles Rapoport, the president of Common Cause:
Today’s decision in McCutcheon v. FEC is Citizens United round two, further opening the floodgates for the nation’s wealthiest few to drown out the voices of the rest of us.
From Carmille Lim, the executive director of Common Cause Hawaii:
This decision lays out a welcome mat for corruption, here in Hawaii and across the country. This opens the door for each member of our congressional delegation and every candidate for Congress to solicit multi-million dollar gifts from ultra-wealthy donors. Common sense tells us that folks who can give that kind of money are going to want something in return.