Supreme Court removes campaign contribution restrictions

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Updated: 4/02 8:40 pm
RENO, Nev. (MyNews4.com & KRNV) -- The U.S. Supreme Court further loosened the reins on the role of money in politics on Wednesday. In a 5-4 vote, the nation's highest court struck down restrictions on the grand total that any one person can contribute to all candidates for federal office.

The decision leaves intact the $2,600 cap per election that a contributor can give to any individual candidate for federal office, but it eliminated a separate limit of $48,600 every two years that donors were allowed to give all federal candidates put together. It also tossed aside the total that can be given to political parties, or PAC's.

The suit was brought by the Republican Party and an Alabama businessman, who argued the contribution ceilings were an unconstitutional restriction on free speech. Local political experts weighed in on Wednesday's decision.

Most Americans do not have vast sums to contribute to political campaigns. They add the obvious winners from this decision are the mega wealthy.

"It matters because the people who are giving money get access to decision makers in a way that the rest of us don't," said Stacy Gordon Fisher.

Fisher is an Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Nevada.  She just finished research using graduate students that looked at campaign contributions and influence.

"They found that if they said 'we're donors to the campaign,' they were three times more likely to get an appointment to see the legislator or their staff than if they just called and said, I'm a constituent."

Fisher said this decision will increase the money in campaigns dramatically, and give the super wealthy even more access.

Fred Lokken, Political Science Professor at Truckee Meadows Community College agrees. "The decision this morning gives them more power, more influence than more than two-thirds of the American people."

Lokken said this decision will benefit incumbents and groups with agendas. "Tea Party, for instance, benefits from this kind of thing or mentality. Certain liberals benefit from this kind of mentality. In some ways, it's handwritten for someone like the Koch Brothers, who have extremely deep pockets, or (Sheldon) Adelson down in Las Vegas."

Lokken also thinks this decision will increase the bickering and polarization of American politics.

"So this is one of the engines that funds the partisanship that everyone agrees is part of the problem, not only in Washington, but probably to some degree, every state of the union."
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