Cue up the deranged Harry Reid and another Koch Brothers meltdown in 3 … 2 … 1 …
The Supreme Court on Wednesday issued a major campaign finance decision, striking down limits on federal campaign contributions for the first time. The ruling, issued near the start of a campaign season, will change and most likely increase the role money plays in American politics.
The decision, by a 5-to-4 vote along ideological lines, was sort of a sequel to Citizens United, the 2010 decision that struck down limits on independent campaign spending by corporations and unions. But that ruling did nothing to disturb the other main form of campaign finance regulation: caps on direct contributions to candidates and political parties.
Wednesday’s decision in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, No. 12-536, addressed that second kind of regulation.
It did not disturb familiar base limits on contributions from individuals to candidates, currently $2,600 per candidate in primary and general elections.
But it said that overall limits of $48,600 every two years for contributions to all federal candidates violated the First Amendment, as did separate aggregate limits on contributions to political party committees, currently $74,600.
The decision chipped away at the central distinction drawn by the Supreme Court in its seminal 1976 campaign finance decision, Buckley v. Valeo.
Independent spending, the court said in Buckley, is political speech protected by the First Amendment. But contributions may be capped, the court said, in the name of preventing corruption. The court added that aggregate contribution limits were a “quite modest restraint upon protected political activity” that “serves to prevent evasion” of the base limits.
Of course since most major donors give to Democrats they should be rejoicing today, but in this era of Koch hysteria, that’s unlikely. In fact just this morning the lunatic Reid went off on another bizarre rant on the Senate floor. This may just drive him to the laughing factory.