The recent Supreme Court decision to loosen further laws that limit fat-cat dollars in elections was hardly surprising. Since the Citizens United decision in 2010, it has been clear that to a majority of the current Supreme Court, money is speech. The First Amendment allows no limits on free speech, therefore individuals and groups can spend freely to elect the candidates of their choice. Or so goes the logic of the Supreme Court.
By itself, the recent McCutcheon decision is fairly narrow. It did not lift limits on individual donations — $5,200 during a two-year political cycle for federal election candidates ($2,600 per primary and general). What it did do, though, is eliminate the aggregate limit on how much an individual can donate to all candidates, parties and political action committees in a two-year election cycle. That had been capped at $123,200. Now, without a limit, billionaires — whether the Koch brothers or George Soros — can donate to as many congressional campaigns, for example, as they chose. On top of that, the donors can donate to political parties and PACs. The playing field is much wider.
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