Until this morning, the federal government could limit the amount of money you contribute for political speech. Today in McCutcheon vs. FEC, the Supreme Court invalidated overall contribution limits. The federal government limited individual campaign contributions to $48,000 overall and $123,200 to everything (PACs, candidates, national parties) each cycle.
The Supreme Court struck down the limits, holding that the government’s justification for limiting free speech rights – to keep money out of politics and the avoid the appearance of impropriety – failed.
This decision cuts at the heart of the leftist narrative on free speech attacks. The heart of the narrative on the left (and among a smattering of GOP Senators) is that money in politics is bad and that large financial contributions create the appearance of corruption.
The Court rejected these justifications squarely:
Significant First Amendment interests are implicated here. Contributing money to a candidate is an exercise of an individual’s right to participate in the electoral process through both political expression and political association. A restriction on how many candidates and committees an individual may support is hardly a “modest restraint” on those rights. 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.
After the page break, we’ll explore the driving force behind the decision.