The Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision, ruled Wednesday that limits on the total amount of money individuals can give to candidates, political parties and political action committees are unconstitutional.
The major ruling, which was hailed by Republican congressional leaders as a First Amendment victory, removes the cap on contributions, which was set at $123,200 for 2014. It does not change limits, though, on individual contributions for president or Congress, currently set at $2,600 per election.
Chief Justice John Roberts announced the decision, which split the court's liberal and conservative justices.
“Money in politics may at times seem repugnant to some, but so too does much of what the First Amendment vigorously protects,” Roberts wrote in the majority opinion. “If the First Amendment protects flag burning, funeral protests and Nazi parades – despite the profound offense such spectacles cause – it surely protects political campaign speech despite popular opinion.”
Others, though, described the ruling as a major blow to vital campaign finance rules.
Justice Stephen Breyer, writing for the dissenting side, took the unusual step of reading a summary of his opinion from the bench and said the “decision eviscerates our nation’s campaign finance laws.”