U.S. Supreme Court
Constitutional Law — First Amendment — campaign contributions — aggregate limits
The aggregate limits on campaign contributions in the Federal Election Campaign Act do not further the permissible governmental interest in preventing quid pro quo corruption or its appearance.
This Court has identified only one legitimate governmental interest for restricting campaign finances: preventing corruption or the appearance of corruption. See Davis, supra, at 741. Moreover, the only type of corruption that Congress may target is quid pro quo corruption. 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. Nor does the possibility that an individual who spends large sums may garner “influence over or access to” elected officials or political parties. Citizens United v. Federal Election Comm’n, 558 U. S. 310, 359. The line between quid pro quo corruption and general influence must be respected in order to safeguard basic First Amendment rights, and the Court must “err on the side of protecting political speech rather than suppressing it.” Federal Election Comm’n v. Wisconsin Right to Life, 551 U. S. 449, 457 (opinion of ROBERTS, C. J.).
893 F.Supp.2d 133, reversed and remanded.
Roberts, C.J.; Thomas, J., concurring; Breyer, J., dissenting.