Millionaires’ Amendment Struck Down by High Court

Supreme Court ruling nixes Millionaires’ Amendment in campaign-finance law.

Broadcasters could lose a few political dollars thanks to a Supreme Court ruling striking down the so-called Millionaires’ Amendment in campaign-finance law.

The court in another 5-4 decision reversed a lower court and held that a federal candidate should not be allowed to start raising money beyond the cap on individual donor contributions when his opponent is rich enough to put more than $350,000 into his own campaign.

The courts already rejected putting a cap on how much candidates can contribute to their own campaigns, but the McCain-Feingold Bipartisan Campaign Finance Reform Act (BCRA) included an amendment that allowed opponents of those so-called millionaire candidates to start raising more money to compensate, while the individual donor caps on the millionaire candidate remained.

The court said Monday that if those individual-donor limits had been lifted for both candidates, there would have been no constitutional basis for a challenge. But because they were not, it held that the "asymmetrical" limits were unconstitutional, saying, "While BCRA does not impose a cap on a candidate’s expenditure of personal funds, it imposes an unprecedented penalty on any candidate who robustly exercises that First Amendment right, requiring him to choose between the right to engage in unfettered political speech and subjection to discriminatory fund-raising limitations."