Scott Hardie | May 18, 2022
The Supreme Court ruled 6-3 this week that there can be no limit on how much money campaigns can repay to their own politicians after the election, using donor money to settle a campaign's "debts." So, say you're a rich person who wants to run for office. You can loan any sum to your own campaign, and then after Election Day, other rich people who want favors from you can give your campaign large contributions in order to settle the campaign's "debts," and then the campaign can pass along that money to you. And per the ruling, there can be no limit on the rate of interest, so you can collect as much as you want; you could in theory give $10 and get back billions.

And as far as the Supreme Court is concerned, none of this is a problem, because imposing any limit on it would be an unconstitutional violation of free speech, since the court considers political donations to be political speech.

So, honest question: Why doesn't the Supreme Court just drop the fig leaf and allow direct bribery? If I go to my governor or one of my representatives in Congress and hand them a sack full of cash labelled "FOR POLITICS" and in exchange they give my business some lucrative contracts, why isn't that protected political speech? What precisely do the six justices who voted in favor this week consider to be the difference?


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