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In a landmark decision that could lead to even more expensive federal elections, the Supreme Court on Wednesday struck down longstanding limits on the aggregate amount of money individuals may donate to federal candidates and campaigns in a given election cycle.
In a 5-4 decision in the case of McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, the court ruled that the two-year caps on donations to federal candidates and political action committees violated the First Amendment. But the court left in place limits on how much individuals can donate to single candidates in a given election cycle. Currently, individuals may donate up to $2,500 per candidate per election. The now-nixed aggregate limits capped donations to all federal candidates at $46,200, and set the bar on donations to PACs and party committees at $70,800.
Writing for the majority, Chief Justice John Roberts said the aggregate limits "do not further the permissible government interest in preventing quid pro quo corruption or its appearance."
"Spending large sums of money in connection with elections but not in connection with an effort to control the exercise of an officeholder's official duties, does not give rise to quid pro quo corruption," he added.