Supreme Court Lets More Money Into Political Pipeline

Even more money could be flowing into broadcast and cable political ad coffers in the current election cycle after the Supreme Court removed a barrier to individual campaign contributions that will allow individuals to put millions more into campaigns.

The court, in a 5-4 decision, Wednesday reversed a lower court ruling and concluded that the biennial cap on a single individual's aggregate political contributions in any two-year election cycle violated First Amendment rights.

The Federal Election Commission has been able to set individual and aggregate contribution limits. The individual limit—$2,600 per candidate or committee per election—remains in place. But the aggregate biennial limit of $123,200 for the 2013-2014 election cycle—$48,600 to all candidates; $74,600 to all PACs and parties—has now been invalidated by the court majority.

According to various reports, individuals will now be able to contribute north of $3.5 million across all candidates and PACs in an election cycle.

In some quadrants it was being called a blow to Democracy (a New York Times blog posting) and a disaster ( worse than the Citizens United case, in which the Supremes ruled that a prohibition on direct funding of campaign ads by corporations and unions violated the First Amendment.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.