On Wednesday, the Supreme Court struck down a key part of federal campaign finance law by allowing donors to give money to as many political candidates, parties and committees as they choose. This ruling comes just in time for contentious mid-terms and the 2016 presidential race.
Divided along ideological camps, the 5-4 ruling eliminated limits on how much money people can donate in total in one election season.
Supreme Court Justice John Roberts wrote the opinion of the court’s conservative majority:
“The right to participate in democracy through political contributions is protected by the First Amendment, but that right is not absolute.”
The decision left intact the current $5,200 limit on how much an individual can give to any single candidate during a two-year election cycle. Though now, a donor can give to as many candidates as he or she chooses.
The aggregate limits were put in place to reduce corruption. “We conclude, however, that the aggregate limits do little, if anything, to address that concern, while seriously restricting participation in the democratic process. The aggregate limits are therefore invalid under the First Amendment,” Roberts wrote.
In dissent, Justice Stephen Breyer said the majority opinion will have the effect of creating “huge loopholes in the law; and that undermines, perhaps devastates, what remains of campaign finance reform.”
This ruling comes days after several potential Republican presidential nominees were in Las Vegas, hoping to get on billionaire Sheldon Adelson’s donor list.
Adelson is changing up how he backs a candidate. Sources close to him say he doesn’t want to repeat what happened in 2012 where Adelson gave $92 million to mostly losing candidates, including Newt Gingrich.
According to the Washington Post, the casino magnate is looking to back more mainstream Republicans with a clear shot at winning the White House.
During the Republican Jewish Coalition gathering last week at Adelson’s Venetian hotel, Republican hopefuls kowtowed to Adelson in hope of receiving some of his $39.9 billion fortune.
John Kasich, the Ohio governor, kept addressing his speech to “Sheldon,” as if he was having a private conversation with him.
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker spoke about the Hebrew meaning of his son, Matthew’s, name. He also mentioned that he has a menorah alongside his Christmas tree.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie talked about a recent trip to Israel and the “occupied territories.”
According to the New York Times, a shocked whisper went through the crowd. Even before Christie left the stage, leaders of the group told him he had stumbled, badly. Afterward, Christie apologized to Adelson for the gaffe.
Earlier in the week, Adelson met privately with former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who addressed the Republican Jewish Coalition’s senior members at Adelson’s company airport hangar.
Who will get Adelson’s support is still undetermined. But “The bar for support is going to be much higher,” said Andy Abboud, Adelson’s top political adviser and an executive at the Adelson-run Las Vegas Sands Corp. “There’s going to be a lot more scrutiny.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham is pandering to Adelson too. Graham is facing 5 challengers this primary.
Graham is advancing legislation that will ban online gambling that will eliminate Adelson’s competition. Graham recently said that Casino magnate and GOP mega-donor Sheldon Adelson has “aligned himself with most Baptists in S.C.”
Victor Chaltiel, a GOP donor and an Adelson friend who sits on the board of Las Vegas Sands, said at this early stage in the 2016 sweepstakes, Adelson is “neutral” and has his eye on a number of potential candidates, including Bush and Christie.
“He doesn’t want a crazy extremist to be the nominee,” Chaltiel said. “He wants someone who has the chance to win the election, who is reasonable in his positions, who has convictions but is not totally crazy.”
Last year, Adelsom has made his own controversial remarks though. He suggested that the U.S. should launch a nuclear strike in the desert, then Tehran if they didn’t give up their nuclear program. See video below.