The Supreme Court on Wednesday further opened up the taps on political campaign spending, with a bombshell ruling that removes the long-standing limits on how much total money an individual can contribute to federal candidates.
In what amounts to a 5-4 ruling won by conservatives, the court declared the aggregate contribution limits imposed four decades ago violated the First Amendment’s free-speech protections. Though individual donations may still be limited, for now, the ruling means donors can spread their wealth across as many candidates and causes as they can find.
“They...intrude without justification on a citizen’s ability to exercise the most fundamental First Amendment activities,” Chief Justice John Roberts, Jr., wrote of the aggregate conribution limits.
Roberts’ 40-page opinion , joined by three other conservative justices, continues the court’s dismantling of congressional campaign finance reform efforts, including landmarks laws passed in 1974 and 2002, and its constitutional reasoning leaves remaining campaign restrictions at risk. Justice Clarence Thomas joined the conclusion, making an effective 5-4 majority, though he wrote a separate concurring opinion calling for the end of other campaign limits as well.