Another awful Supreme Court decision today extends the Citizens United disaster and further erodes America’s political system by striking down aggregate limits on campaign contributions; according to the new ruling, wealthy individuals may now contribute as much as $3.6 million to a single politician.
The decision — written by Chief Justice John Roberts and joined by Justices Antonin Scalia, Anthony Kennedy and Samuel Alito — held that “aggregate limits are invalid under the First Amendment.” Justice Clarence Thomas concurred with the other conservative justices but penned a separate opinion arguing that campaign finance restrictions should be wiped out further.
The conservative justices argued that eliminating aggregate cont limits doesn’t give rise to “quid pro quo corruption” which the court recognized as a legitimate rationale for campaign finance restrictions in the landmark Buckley v. Valeo case in 1976.
“Spending large sums of money in connection with elections, but not in connection with an effort to control the exercise of an officeholder’s official duties, does not give rise to such quid pro quo corruption,” Roberts wrote in the ruling. “Nor does the possibility that an individual who spends large sums may garner ‘influence over or access to’ elected officials or political parties.”
The law currently permits individuals to spend no more than $2,600 per election per candidate, allowing for up to $5,200 for a primary and general election. The aggregate limit is $48,600 on contribution to candidates for an election cycle, and $74,600 on campaign committees. The Supreme Court ruling keeps the individual limits and eliminates the aggregate limits. Supporters of the law noted that without limits, a single donor could contribute as much as $3.6 million to a single politician between giving to candidates and committees.