Supreme Court rolls back campaign spending limits

posted by GeoT
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court has ruled that corporations may spend freely to support or oppose candidates for president and Congress, easing decades-old limits on their participation in federal campaigns.

By a 5-4 vote, the court on Thursday overturned a 20-year-old ruling that said corporations can be prohibited from using money from their general treasuries to pay for campaign ads. The decision, which almost certainly will also allow labor unions to participate more freely in campaigns, threatens similar limits imposed by 24 states.

The justices also struck down part of the landmark McCain-Feingold campaign finance bill that barred union- and corporate-paid issue ads in the closing days of election campaigns.

Advocates of strong campaign finance regulations have predicted that a court ruling against the limits would lead to a flood of corporate and union money in federal campaigns as early as this year’s midterm congressional elections.

The decision, written by Justice Anthony Kennedy, removes limits on independent expenditures that are not coordinated with candidates’ campaigns.

It leaves in place a prohibition on direct contributions to candidates from corporations and unions.

The case also does not affect political action committees, which mushroomed after post-Watergate laws set the first limits on contributions by individuals to candidates. Corporations, unions and others may create PACs to contribute directly to candidates, but they must be funded with voluntary contributions from employees, members and other individuals, not by corporate or union treasuries.




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5 responses to “Supreme Court rolls back campaign spending limits

  1. this will make the Corporations so powerful they will laugh at Obama’s proposed regulations…

    the era of “This President brought to you by…” “This Senator brought to you by”

    has arrived.

  2. I’m glad to see the Justice Sotomayor joined Stevens’ dissent. Not that it helped this time, but this is why elections matter. We need more liberals on the court. Period.

  3. ogenec

    I haven’t read the opinion yet, so it’s hard for me to comment. Kennedy is a thoughtful guy — even when you don’t agree with him — but this one has me scratching my head. If money is speech, then how come corporations can buy ads, but can’t contribute directly to campaigns? Isn’t that a restriction on speech???

    And what does the restriction accomplish, anyway? Money is fungible. If you turned the cash over to the campaigns, they’d probably use it to cut ads anyway. So what does the disparate treatment accomplish? I almost feel like, okay, if that’s what you really believe, then there shouldn’t be ANY limits on campaign contributions. I’m interested to see what Scalia and Thomas think.

  4. lynnette

    I’m with you, Audiegrl – more liberals and more women = more liberal women. How about an African American, Asian American, or Native American woman to join Ginsburg and Sotomayor? We need at least four women on the S.C., no, make that five. 😉

    • Of course, it would be nice to see more women on the court, and more people of color, as long as they are liberal on social issues.

      Before I get behind any new female candidate for the Supreme Court, I would need to see what type of rulings she has made in the past.

      We certainly don’t need a Justice Michelle Bachman or Justice Sarah Palin on the court. Yikes! 😉

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