The Court Follows the Money

April 3, 2014 | | New York Times |

The Supreme Court on Wednesday continued its crusade to knock down all barriers to the distorting power of money on American elections. In the court’s most significant campaign-finance ruling since Citizens United in 2010, five justices voted to eliminate sensible and long-established contribution limits to federal political campaigns. Listening to their reasoning, one could almost imagine that the case was simply about the freedom of speech in the context of elections. [...]

As a result of Wednesday’s ruling, an individual donor will now be able to contribute as much as $3.6 million per election cycle (the sum of maximum donations to all national and state party committees and a party’s presidential and Congressional candidates). This money can then be funneled to specific campaigns through the use of joint fund-raising committees, effectively nullifying the per-candidate limit. Chief Justice Roberts blithely rejected such a scenario as “speculation,” and he ignored political reality by confining the meaning of corruption to instances of “quid pro quo,” or the direct exchange of money for political favors.