Campaign Finance

Supreme Court Strikes Down Major Campaign Finance Restriction

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In a divided opinion issued this morning, the U.S. Supreme Court invalidated a federal limit capping the total amount of money an individual may give to political candidates and parties during a two year period. "Money in politics may at times seem repugnant to some," wrote Chief Justice John Roberts in his controlling opinion in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, "but so too does much of what the First Amendment vigorously protects."

The case arose when Shaun McCutcheon, a wealthy donor to the Republican Party, challenged the aggregate contribution limits for violating his constitutional right to speak freely about politics. Today, the Supreme Court agreed with McCutcheon's main claims.

While "combatting corruption" is a permissible reason to regulate campaign spending, Chief Justice Roberts declared, "the aggregate limits do little, if anything, to address that concern, while seriously restricting participation in the democratic process. The aggregate limits are therefore invalid under the First Amendment."

The Court's opinion in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission is available here.