If the Supreme Court Strikes Down Campaign Contribution Limits, It Might Help Kill Off the Tea Party

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.

The Supreme Court will soon hand down its ruling in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, a case that could finish up what Citizens United started by striking down virtually all individual limits on campaign contributions to candidates and parties. Rick Hasen suggests there might be a silver lining to a decision that erased existing limits:

If the aggregate donation limits fell, party leaders would regain some advantage. They could start collecting huge checks from donors eager to have more direct influence than is possible when giving to outside groups. Party leaders would then be able to dole that money out to candidates and party committees. They would have more tools to control members scared of, or beholden to, super PACs. Republican leaders could fight back against tea party campaigns.

….Strong political parties have more incentive to cooperate than oppose each other under certain circumstances because they care about their electoral prospects. Look at how Speaker John Boehner pushed through a “clean” debt-limit increase with the help of Democrats in the House and how Senate [Minority] Leader Mitch McConnell voted to break a Sen. Ted Cruz filibuster of this legislation. Party leaders know that it is in their interest to cooperate and keep the government moving so that voters do not abandon them as obstructionist.

I don’t know if I buy this, but I figured I’d pass it along. There’s a good chance the Supreme Court will indeed finish the job of gutting campaign finance limits, and if that happens we’ll all need a bit of solace. This might be the best we can do.


Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend