Supreme Court Strikes Down Overall Limits On Political Contributions | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

NPR : News

Filed Under:

Supreme Court Strikes Down Overall Limits On Political Contributions

This file photo shows the U.S. Supreme Court Building in Washington.
AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite
This file photo shows the U.S. Supreme Court Building in Washington.

The U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday struck down an overall cap on the amount that large campaign donors can give to parties and candidates in a two-year election cycle.

In a 5-4 decision split between conservatives and liberals on the high court, the court said the limits were a violation of the First Amendment.

However, the ruling affects only aggregate donations on the total amount that a contributor can hand out to multiple candidates and political action committees, which is currently set at $123,200. It leaves in place a $2,600 cap on the amount of a gift to an individual candidate.

Chief Justice John Roberts led the opinion and was joined by justices Antonin Scalia, Anthony Kennedy and Samuel Alito. A separate but concurring opinion was written by Justice Clarence Thomas. Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan dissented.

NPR's Peter Overby says Roberts' decision in McCutcheon v. FEC "says those aggregate limits were unconstitutional because they did not prevent corruption or the appearance of corruption."

Overby says that even with the individual candidate limit still in place, the ruling "[makes] it possible for a donor to give a party leader a check for more than $1 million, with the money getting parceled out in $2,600 amounts to the candidates."

The court's conservative majority had previously struck down a series of campaign finance restrictions for hampering political speech — most notably in the landmark 2010 case Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission — so Wednesday's decision was not surprising. The main question seemed to be how far the latest ruling would go.

The Supreme Court's liberals have generally maintained that restrictions on campaign contributions served to level the playing field and ensure that the voices of ordinary citizens are not drowned out by wealthy individuals and corporate donors.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

Herbie Hancock: 'On A Path To Find My Own Answer'

In a candid interview, the ever-innovative pianist traces the lines between Buddhist chants, Sly Stone and Miles Davis, while shedding new light on some hard facts about his past.
NPR

Glow-In-The-Dark Treats To Light Up Your Halloween

Two entrepreneurs have developed new tricks to make food that's literally illuminating, using ingredients that are as natural and unprocessed as possible. It's just basic food chemistry, folks.
NPR

Big-Spending Democrat Faces Off With Koch Brothers In Campaign Ads

Climate change activist Tom Steyer has become the single biggest supporter of Democrats this election. New FEC filings show he gave his NextGen Climate Action superPAC another $15 million. In ads, NextGen is tying candidates in six Senate races to the conservative billionaire Koch brothers.
NPR

Tweets In Hong Kong Puts Kenny G In Jam With Communist Party

The saxophone superstar, hugely popular in mainland China, walked into a mine field in Hong Kong. Selfies with demonstrators sparked a response from the government — and Kenny G took down the tweets.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.