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SCOTUS Strikes Down Aggregate Contribution Limits

Good. It’s argumentatively stupid to cap the total amount of money an individual can give to a group of candidates.  We don’t cap TV advertising contributions to the stations which run campaign ads.  There sure as hell isn’t a cap on charitable contributions or investments, so capping political giving is derivative.

Besides, there sure as hell is no limit on giving to 527 or 501 groups.

A split Supreme Court Wednesday struck down limits on the total amount of money an individual may spend on political candidates as a violation of free speech rights, a decision sure to increase the role of money in political campaigns.

The 5 to 4 decision sparked a sharp dissent from liberal justices, who said the decision reflects a wrong-headed hostility to campaign finance laws that the court’s conservatives showed in Citizens United v. FEC , which allowed corporate spending on elections.

“If Citizens United opened a door,” Justice Stephen G. Breyer said in reading his dissent from the bench, “today’s decision we fear will open a floodgate.”

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. wrote the opinion striking down the aggregate limits of what an individual may contribute to candidates and political committees.

The decision did not affect the limit an individual may contribute to a specific candidate, currently $2,600.

But Roberts said an individual should be able to contribute that much to as many candidates as he chooses, which was not allowed by the donation cap.

“An aggregate limit on how many candidates and committees an individual may support through contributions is not a modest restaint at all,” Roberts wrote. “The government may no more restrict how many candidates or causes a donor may support than it may tell a newspaper how many candidates it may endorse.”

There is a similar case pending in federal court that the gang over at the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty is working on.  It effects Wisconsin’s aggregate contribution limits which are even more insane than the federal one. It’s called Young vs. GAB.

Young v. GAB is a federal case challenging Wisconsin’s aggregate campaign contribution limits, which are even lower than the federal limits.  In fact, Wisconsin’s aggregate limit is set at the same level as the individual limit, meaning that if a donor gives a max contribution to one candidate, he or she cannot give even $1 to any other candidate.  WILL brought this case on behalf of Fred Young, a local philanthropist and businessman, alleging that the limit violates the freedom of speech and expression.

The GAB has moved to dismiss the case, arguing that the complaint does not sufficiently allege that Mr. Young is harmed by the limit. The parties have agreed to put the case on hold until McCutcheon v. FEC, a federal case pending before the U.S. Supreme Court challenging federal aggregate limits, is decided.

That gulping sound is Kevin Kennedy out of Madison.

Naturally, the Dems are angry — even though now their donors too can rejoice in giving to as many of them as they please — and have promised “legislative remedy” to the ruling.  They’ve been promising that since Citizens United but they haven’t done that while SuperPAC spending on both sides of the aisle only goes up and up.

Politico lists some of the proposals, admittedly, only one of them sounds appealing to me.

Meanwhile, Maine Sen. Angus King, an independent who caucuses with Democrats, said he introduced legislation intended to make donations more transparent by requiring all contributions of $1,000 or more to be disclosed to the Federal Election Commission within 48 hours. A campaign bill in the House will be introduced by Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas).

Why does this not bug me?  Well 1) I’m alright with instant disclosure over the Internet.  Makes sense.  2) Campaigns already have to do this anyway in the final days between their “Pre-Election Report” to the Federal Elections Commission and Election Day.  That typically is the last week to ten days of a campaign.

Heck was during that time in 2010 that I discovered Bruce Spingsteen dropped a max donation to Russ Feingold during my daily examination of his finance reports.

Ah…good times.

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