EDITORIAL: Victory for free speech

The left is predictably apoplectic over the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to strike down the cap on the total amount of money an individual donor can contribute to federal candidates and party groups during a single, two-year election cycle. One candidate declared Wednesday’s 5-4 ruling in McCutcheon v. FEC the court’s worst decision “since the Dred Scott case reaffirmed slavery in 1857.”

How ironic that Democrats and progressive outfits would so vigorously exercise their First Amendment rights to associate and engage in political speech by denouncing a decision that protects those same rights.

The Bill of Rights provides iron-clad protections to those who wish to engage in the political process — including donors. Limiting donations limits political speech. But federal law capped both the amount of money a donor could give to any one candidate and the total amount of money that could be contributed for one election. That restricted the number of candidates any one donor could support, a limit the court found unconstitutional.

The ruling preserves the $5,200 cap on donations to federal candidates, but ends the overall contribution cap of $123,200 per election cycle.

“If there is no corruption concern in giving nine candidates up to $5,200 each, it is difficult to understand how a tenth candidate can be regarded as corruptible if given $1,801, and all others corruptible if given even a dime,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for the majority. “The government may no more restrict how many candidates or causes a donor may support than it may tell a newspaper how many candidates it may endorse.”

This ruling will boost contributions to candidates of both major parties, the howls of Democrats notwithstanding. That money, in turn, will fund more political speech. Far from a threat to democracy, more speech strengthens it. And the elimination of the total contribution cap will benefit political challengers; donors have always been inclined to provide protection money to incumbents first.

The only thing that’s outrageous about this ruling is that it was 5-4, with the minority opinion citing the rights of the “collective.” Yikes. Score one for individual, natural rights.

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