Money will continue to rule in politics. The U.S. Supreme Court by a 5-4 vote has struck down some caps on political contributions.
The court threw out the $123,200 cap on what any individual can give to federal candidates and political committees over a two-year election cycle.
Chief Justice John Roberts, speaking for the majority opinion, said the caps infringe on First Amendment free-speech rights and cannot be justified by the public interest in fighting political corruption. That’s a stretch!
The justices left in place limits on individual contributions to each candidate for president or Congress, now $2,600 for a primary and another $2,600 for the general election.
The Associated Press said the ruling may have been more symbolic than substantive importance “in a world in which millions in unlimited donations from liberal and conservative spenders already are playing a major role in campaigns.” The ruling will allow the wealthiest contributors to pour millions of dollars into candidate and party coffers, although those contributions will be subject to disclosure under federal law, unlike much of the big money that independent groups spend on attack ads. Early beneficiaries are expected to be the political parties.
Chief Justice Roberts said the overall limits “intrude without justification on a citizen’s ability to exercise ‘the most fundamental First Amendment activites’,” in quoting from the court’s seminal 1976 campaign finance ruling in Buckley v. Valeo.
The ruling was said to be by the court’s “conservative majority.” After reading this comment from Justice Clarence Thomas, the conservative tag is appropriate. He said he supported the outcome, and added he would have wiped away all contribution limits as violating the First Amendment.
There’s too much money in our political system. The playing field on issues and candidates too often is uneven due to money. In politics, money quite often corrupts.
If campaign limits violate the freedoms embodied in the First Amendment, how many other laws are in violation of it? We have speed limits imposed on us on federal highways by government for safety reasons, but they restrict our freedom to drive as fast as we want to. Is the safety of democracy in danger when we allow money to influence elections?
Are the lines drawn about the freedoms in the First Amendment uneven because of Supreme Court decisions?