Chief Justice John Roberts has a blunt message for wealthy donors tired of campaign finance rules: Fund a super PAC.

It’s simpler, he wrote in his McCutcheon v. FEC opinion Wednesday, than dealing with a web of interlocking fundraising committees.

Roberts also did something that outraged advocates of tighter campaign finance regulation: He used the ubiquity of super PACs to justify looser rules on political contributions. Roberts spearheaded a 5-4 high court ruling that said caps on the total amount of money an individual can give to political campaigns, PACs and parties are unconstitutional.



  1. tdkyo says:

    So, if giving money for a campaign/candidate is considered free speech in terms of the First Amendment, then shouldn’t bribery be legal on the grounds that we are exercising the first amendment via giving money to government officials?

    /trollface

    • Mr Diesel says:

      Yes

    • dusanmal says:

      You intentionally refuse to see difference. One is actively, to the maximum of your abilities helping candidate for political office WITHOUT asking him/her for a return favor. Other one is giving him/her money with direct intention and request to pay you back by using power. One is basis for free speech, another crime.

      • Mr Diesel says:

        It is a crime only because someone says it is, not because it actually is.

        Giving a candidate money is so they will vote the way you want them to. Tell me all the assholes that donate money or time to a candidate and get ambassador positions did it for the hell of it.

        Donation or bribe? Riiight.

      • pedro says:

        “One is actively, to the maximum of your abilities helping candidate for political office WITHOUT asking him/her for a return favor. ”

        Yeah, riiiiight.

        Listen, I have acres of prime farmland in the mohave dessert for cheap, you interested?

  2. MikeN says:

    So it is not corruption to give to nine candidates, an amount of $2600, but giving to the 10th candidate is?

  3. MikeN says:

    They also need to repeal the absurd rule that you have to say I approve this message.

  4. MikeN says:

    That summary in the article is ridiculous. That’s not what Roberts is saying, it was a response to the minority opinion that suggested the decision opens the door for people to donate large amounts to a single candidate by giving to lots of other candidates who wold then funnel the money back to the main candidate. No one would do that because they could just give to a Super PAC. This decision overturns rules that keep people from giving $3000 to 10 candidates. Note Bill Maher gave $1 million two years ago via a superPAC

    • Captain Obvious says:

      Sorry MikeN, you don’t have enough money to have an opinion.

  5. dusanmal says:

    Left, of course (as always) wants to limit free speech whichever way they can. Any limits are wrong. Sad case is that 4 out of 9 Supreme Court Justices ignore founding documents and vote by politics of the day.
    You feel “underrepresented”? – Work hard and do well in life and you too can donate millions to your candidate of choice. You haven’t done well? – Even than you can join and organize if there are many people who think like you…
    All that money allows candidate to present himself. We, the voters are in no way shape or form locked into voting to the largest fundraiser or biggest spender… No amount of giving changes that fact.

    • Phydeau says:

      Lordy. I’ve seen clueless in my time but this really takes the cake.

  6. bobbo, the pragmatic existential evangelical anti-theist and junior culture critic says:

    BASICS are good to keep in mind:

    Speech is speech, and money is money. Imagine the Venn Diagram of this. As with almost everything, and including everything if you include degrees of separation, any two different things have your typical Venn Diagram: lots of overlap, but areas of separation. Thats why the two items aren’t the same thing, can be, must be, treated differently, and have two DIFFERENT WORDS to denote them.===>Speech and Money.

    The overlap here is “protected by the First Amendment” BUT–THAT DOES NOT MAKE THEM THE SAME.

    See the difference?

    Another one making for a quadrilateral equation of complexity: Corporations are NOT people. Again, both are protected by the First Amendment” BUT–THAT DOES NOT MAKE THEM THE SAME.

    Now, sadly, we must add two more making for an overly complicated matrix for anyone, including those on SCOTUS, to understand: Support does not include quid pro quo corruption.

    ………..I start to dither when I consider anonymity vs privacy….. and so many more issues. Have you seen those Venn Diagrams with more than TWO issues? They get weird looking real fast. Too weird for hoomans.

    I think People, including the EVIL RICH CROTCH brothers should be allowed to spend their own money as they choose to do. Their corporations should be totally prevented from same. WHAT the Crotch Brothers spend their money on should be totally transparent and known instantly.

    Pros and Cons to all we do in our downward slide in any claim to democracy. Enthralled by the allure of being rich.

    Silly Hoomans.

  7. Captain Obvious says:

    I can hear the champagne corks popping on K Street from here.

  8. Pocono Charlie says:

    Wait, so the largely slanted media is permitted to feature stories they want on the candidates they want, and unions can spend what they want for the same reason, but people are not allowed to spend their own money, or join groups that share their beliefs?

    I’m not bothered that 5 Justices voted to allow more political speech. I’m dreadfully frightened that 4 Justices believed there ought to be a limit on political speech in America.

    • bobbo, the pragmatic existential evangelical anti-theist and junior culture critic says:

      PC–is there any downside at all in Billionaires meeting with candidates in private and thereafter donating money directly to them for their use as they may see fit?

      Any downside at all? Note that this giving of money directly to candidates IS NOT SPEECH. It is instead as stated: giving money directly to candidates.

      Do you see the difference?

      …… or not?

      • MikeN says:

        Nothing to do with the decision here.
        Before the ruling, a billionaire could give a max of $2600 to a candidate.
        After the ruling, a billionaire can give a max of $2600 to a candidate.

        • bobbo, the pragmatic existential evangelical anti-theist and junior culture critic says:

          Well, thats good to know. But didn’t Adelson (sp?) keep Gingritch in the running singlehandedly by funding his losing campaign for the last two months? Maybe it was thru some kind of PAC but it was as direct as it needed to be.

          The very definition of a corrupt society: confusing freedom with money. Another element to the Venn.

          • MikeN says:

            This decision obviously couldn’t have newly allowed something that happened two years ago. And you have just proven John Roberts’s point and that the dissenting justices were wrong.

          • Tim says:

            Rupert Murdock/Newt GetRich — book deal signed in advance of election vs. foreign corporation owning our media outlets.

            Hmm… A Contract With Australia??

            “”A co-author and architect of the “Contract with America”, Gingrich was a major leader in the Republican victory in the 1994 congressional election. In 1995, Time named him “Man of the Year” for “his role in ending the four-decades-long Democratic majority in the House”.[4] While he was House speaker, the House enacted welfare reform, passed a capital gains tax cut in 1997, and in 1998 passed the first balanced budget since 1969. The poor showing by Republicans in the 1998 Congressional elections, a reprimand from the House for Gingrich’s ethics violation, and pressure from Republican colleagues caused Gingrich’s resignation from the speakership on November 6, 1998,[5] followed by his outright resignation from the House on January 3, 1999.

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Newt_Gingrich#Nonfiction

            Also, Adelson is an ass-clown and a douche-canoe — “”Ya’ll better not vote for Rand Paul or I won’t lend you billions of dollars for laws to fix why I’m clubbing this baby seal… Shalom..

          • oh, look... it's probably not that related. says:

            “”While the print media focused on the two major-party leaders, the other media utilised a range of party spokespeople… radio contract as reflective of ‘a Newt Gingrich contract style campaign’ was a case in point of his attacking style… first Liberal advertisement that under Labor there would be ‘more waste, more debt, more taxes’; whereas the first advertisement from the Labor side (AWU) was colourful: an Addams Family spoof on the Coalition reintroducing WorkChoices.

            http://press.anu.edu.au//apps/bookworm/view/JULIA+2010:+The+caretaker+election/8291/Text/ch02.html

  9. Uncle Patso says:

    Donation or corruption?

    The difference is mostly imaginary: 2.7818 + 17 i.

    The quid pro quo is a little more subtle than “Here’s money; do this, that and the other thing.” It has been shown that, for example, a U. S. senator has to raise so many thousands of dollars every week of his term to have a chance to win re-election. Come primary/election time, the big donors are looking at the record, wondering “What good have you done for me?” And just in case the office-holder is forgetful, there are tens of thousands of lobbyists there to remind all and sundry just what are the this that and the other thing desired by the donors.

  10. MikeN says:

    Mitch McConnell got the Supreme Court to let his own lawyer participate in oral arguments.

    He also got rid of public funding for party conventions.

    • bobbo, the pragmatic existential evangelical anti-theist and junior culture critic says:

      I do love the whining of the Right Wing re Harry Reids calling the Crotch Brothers out for their odious snuffing out of democracy. I only wish he would be more direct … and give greater details like: “Stop buying Brawny paper towels…” etc.

      First real shot in the coming war against the RICH…

      ………. like AGW…. can you believe it, or do you have to be chest deep in water first?

    • Captain Obvious says:

      You should find how the US Senate differs from the House. You are American, right?

      Both the Republicans and the Democrats from the Senate can use their own lawyers to argue in litigation, even when if affects the chamber. The Republicans did this during the DOMA case and in the recent recess appointment case. The court has to agree to hear the argument but they rarely say no to a Senate appointed lawyer.

      • MikeN says:

        The Senators were not a party to this legislation, and in DOMA the government was refusing to defend the case.

        • Captain Obvious says:

          The Senate usually takes point on arguments before the bench for Congress. If there is a 2/3 majority on the case then Senate Counsel leads the argument. If there isn’t 2/3’s then either party can use their own lawyers.

          It doesn’t matter if any member is directly involved the legislation or not. The courts can choose to hear the arguments or not based on merit. The Whigs even did this, it’s not exactly something new.

          Again, you are American, right? If not go ask a 10 year old how this stuff works.

  11. MikeN says:

    The liberal judges have declared that the First Amendment only applies to COLLECTIVE speech. Only so much as it maintains a democratic order that lets the collective be heard. If your speech is against the public interest…

  12. Captain Obvious says:

    I think this is going to be worse for the Republicans than the Democrats. It will marginally help the R’s catch up on fund raising who have been lagging behind over the last few years since the top spending contributors are about 2/3 R’s. However it will increase the internal split in the R’s between the heavy contributors who want to swing the party towards their control and interests against the Tea Partiers who have their own agenda. It will also cause some fractures in the D’s, but not nearly as bad.

    The R’s need to stifle the Tea Party before they can gag the D’s. That’s going to take an awful lot of dough.

    • bobbo, the pragmatic existential evangelical anti-theist and junior culture critic says:

      How can the R’s gag the D’s?

      The D’s have their own corrupting RICH contributors/manipulators/criminals. Thankfully, as far as I can tell, the Big $$ Dumbo contributors are pretty much of the same mindset/goals as the party as a whole.

      Not so with the R’s… hence the issue.

      So…. what do you mean?

      • Captain Obvious says:

        Well, they don’t need to do it. Personally I think the R’s are going down the drain, and not a day too soon. Stifling the entrepreneurial spirit and innovation in the US for 30 years.

        I should have said, they think that’s they’re plan.

        • MikeN says:

          ObamaCare puts a tax on medical devices, no harm to innovation there.

          • Captain Obvious says:

            Try and raise capital in the US for a biomedical company. I’ve done it. It’s easier in Canada, Europe, even India and all those zones have higher tax rates than the US. There’s been a 35 long year social experiment in the US to move useful capital into the hands of a very few.

            The Democrats and Republicans have both bought into the myth of rewarding lack of investment in the private sector. The only difference is that the Republicans have been more effective at implementing feudal policies.

      • MikeN says:

        Comcast and TimeWarner merger going thru without opposition. You think this is because the rich executives of the corporations are giving to Democrats?

  13. Uncle Patso says:

    Stein Ringen (excerpt):

    In the age of mega-expensive politics, candidates depend on sponsors to fund permanent campaigns. When money is allowed to transgress from markets, where it belongs, to politics, where it has no business, those who control it gain power to decide who the successful candidates will be — those they wish to fund — and what they can decide once they are in office. Rich supporters get two swings at influencing politics, one as voters and one as donors. Others have only the vote, a power that diminishes as political inflation deflates its value. It is a misunderstanding to think that candidates chase money. It is money that chases candidates.

    http://courier-journal.com/story/opinion/2014/04/04/democracy-failing/7316835/

    or

    http://fresnobee.com/2014/03/31/3853423/stein-ringen-facing-a-fall-of.html

    • Captain Obvious says:

      You’re right. This is all about the unique US industry of mega-funding political campaigns.

  14. pedro says:

    Proof positive that money talks