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Limits Lifted On Political Donors

Publication Date: 
April 03, 2014
San Francisco Chronicle
Bob Egelko

Professor Nate Persily weighs in on the U.S. Supreme Court decision in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission and how the "battle to keep money out of politics" has already been lost.  

The U.S. Supreme Court’s 5-4 ruling Wednesday, striking down limits on the total amount wealthy individuals can give to federal candidates in an election cycle, means more money in a political system already awash in it.

But it may also mean more transparency, because the extra money will flow to politicians who have to reveal where it came from.

Four years after the court opened the door to unlimited political spending with its Citizens United decision, “it is much better to rewrite the balance and let accountable institutions - parties and candidates - compete with shadowy groups” like so-called social-welfare organizations and the umbrella groups known as super PACs, said Nathaniel Persily, a Stanford University law professor.


But Persily said the legal battle to keep money out of politics has already been lost. Advocates will have to try to limit the damage through such measures as stronger disclosure laws and more public funding of campaigns, the Stanford professor said.