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Supreme Court free speech ruling is actually a defeat for free speech

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
4/2/2014 (3 years ago)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Ruling says people can support as many candidates as they like -- but limit how much you can donate to one candidate

According to a new ruling, wealthy donors shouldn't be limited in how many candidates they can contribute to during an election. That's the decision rendered by the Supreme Court. There is one important stipulation: there remains a maximum donation that can be made to a single candidate.

In defense, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., in the controlling opinion in the 5-4 ruling, said that while the government has an interest in preventing corruption of federal officeholders, individuals have political rights that include being able to give to as many candidates as they want.

In defense, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., in the controlling opinion in the 5-4 ruling, said that while the government has an interest in preventing corruption of federal officeholders, individuals have political rights that include being able to give to as many candidates as they want.

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
4/2/2014 (3 years ago)

Published in Politics & Policy

Keywords: Supreme Court, political contributions, ruling


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The ruling is sure to bring controversy. Opponents say that conservatives are dismantling the campaign finance system one ruling at a time.

In defense, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., in the controlling opinion in the 5-4 ruling, said that while the government has an interest in preventing corruption of federal officeholders, individuals have political rights that include being able to give to as many candidates as they want.

It is better to light one tiny candle than to curse the darkness --

"Money in politics may at times seem repugnant to some, but so too does much of what the First Amendment vigorously protects," the chief justice wrote. "If the First Amendment protects flag burning, funeral protests, and Nazi parades - despite the profound offense such spectacles cause - it surely protects political campaign speech despite popular opposition."

The current limit rules that a donor can't give more than $123,200 to candidates, parties and political action committees. Of that amount, only $48,600 can go directly to candidates.

In other words, if someone wants to give the maximum donation, he could only contribute to nine candidates.

Chief Justice Roberts argues that it illogical that someone couldn't give to a 10th candidate or more. Roberts says that the government didn't offer a clear line on where corruption would come into play.

Defenders of the law posed a hypothetical, saying that if someone were allowed to give the maximum to every political candidate and party, it could amount to $3.5 million, which could then be redistributed to other campaigns by the candidates and parties themselves.

Campaign finance advocates are concerned that those candidates and parties could then collude and siphon the money back to a single candidate the donor had wanted to benefit in the first place, which would effectively break the contribution limit.

"We think the risk of corruption is real," Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr. told the justices when the case was argued last October.

Justice Roberts' ruling was joined by Justices Antonin Scalia, Anthony Kennedy and Samuel A. Alito Jr. Justice Clarence Thomas wrote an opinion joining in the judgment, though he would have gone further in undoing the limit on how much can be given to individual campaigns.

The court's four leftist-leaning justices dissented. In an opinion written by Justice Stephen G. Breyer that blasted the majority ruling, calling it devastating to democracy.

"It creates a loophole that will allow a single individual to contribute millions of dollars to a political party or to a candidate's campaign," Justice Breyer wrote. "Taken together with Citizens United v. Federal Election [Commission], today's decision eviscerates our nation's campaign finance laws, leaving a remnant incapable of dealing with the grave problems of democratic legitimacy that those laws were intended to resolve."

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