- By Tyler Beaston
- Published: April 15th, 2014
The Supreme Court decides to no longer limit the amount of money one can donate to a political campaign
In a 5-4 decision Wednesday, April 2, the U.S. Supreme Court removed the limit on political campaign donations from individuals to federal candidates, according to a Washington Post article by Robert Barnes.
The justices of the Supreme Court ruled to remove the cap because it conflicts with a person’s First Amendment right to free speech. Obviously, the issue hardly relates to speaking, but more generally to freely supporting candidates.
I side with Chief Justice John Roberts, Jr. and the other four justices who opposed the limit on donations, solely because I believe people should be allowed to do with their money whatever they like, short of illegal dealings.
The Washington Post article quotes Roberts, who said, “There is no right more basic in our democracy than the right to participate in electing our political leaders.”
In a time marked by a significant growth of government regulation in the economy and high taxes, this recent decision upholds individuals’ rights to use their property at their own discretion — a refreshing change of policy in my opinion.
The opposing justices and their supporters see the removal of the donation cap as an opportunity for some of the country’s wealthiest people to unfairly contribute to candidates.
Opponents of the decision fear that people giving money will find loopholes to give even more funds, according to a CNN article by Bill Mears and Tom Cohen.
Additionally, a relationship between money givers and receivers could appear to be based on favors. For example, someone might give money to a candidate in return for a political benefit.
The concern is legitimate enough, and these under-the-table transactions cannot be condoned. But what opponents must recognize is that devious dealings will always transpire and loopholes will always be exploited — it is in human nature to do so. The existence of a donation cap could never change a person’s unethical inclinations.
There is still a limit on the amount that donors can give to individual candidates, so dissenters have little reason to complain. Donors can give no more than $5,200 to one candidate within a two-year election cycle, Mears and Cohen wrote.
In keeping with governmental precedents, this court case has been politicized like everything else that comes out of D.C. It has become positively tiresome, the talk of partisanship that supposedly influenced the justices’ decision. Of course, it was the Republicans or Conservatives who supported the limit’s removal. And of course, the Democrats and Liberals stood for its continuation.
“It again reveals a court deeply divided between Liberals trying to preserve campaign finance restrictions they say are essential to ensuring democracy is not distorted by the wealth of the powerful, and Conservatives who think the First Amendment trumps efforts by the government to control who pays for elections and how much they spend,” Barnes wrote.
Could it not be that each Supreme Court justice voted based not on their political persuasions but on their convictions? I disagree with limiting individual donations in spite of my conservative tendencies, not because of them. Any mention of political parties in relation to this case is really quite irrelevant.