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Some continued to argue that campaign expenditures are a form of speech, a position with which two recent Supreme Court decisions are consistent. The Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission

Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission , 08-205, 558 U.S. 310 (2010).
and the McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission
McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission , 12-536, 572 U.S. ___ (2014).
cases opened the door for a substantially greater flow of money into elections. Citizens United    overturned the soft money ban of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act and allowed corporations and unions to spend unlimited amounts of money on elections. Essentially, the Supreme Court argued in a 5–4 decision that these entities had free speech rights, much like individuals, and that free speech included campaign spending. The McCutcheon decision further extended spending allowances based on the First Amendment by striking down aggregate contribution limits. These limits put caps on the total contributions allowed and some say have contributed to a subsequent increase in groups and lobbying activities ( [link] ).

An image of a corpulent cartoon figure wearing a suit, hands in pockets, with a bag of money instead of a head. Text under the figure reads “The “Brains” ”.
With his Harper’s Weekly cartoon of William “Boss” Tweed with a moneybag for a head, Thomas Nast provided an enduring image of the corrupting power of money on politics. Some denounce “fat cat” lobbyists and the effects of large sums of money in lobbying, while others suggest that interests have every right to spend money to achieve their objectives.

The koch brothers

Conservative billionaires Charles and David Koch have become increasingly active in U.S. elections in recent years. These brothers run Koch Industries, a multinational corporation that manufactures and produces a number of products including paper, plastics, petroleum-based products, and chemicals. In the 2012 election, the Koch brothers and their affiliates spent nearly $400 million supporting Republican candidates. Many people have suggested that this spending helped put many Republicans in office. The Kochs and their related organizations planned to raise and spend nearly $900 million on the 2016 elections. Critics have accused them and other wealthy donors of attempting to buy elections. However, others point out that their activities are legal according to current campaign finance laws and recent Supreme Court decisions, and that these individuals, their companies, and their affiliates should be able to spend what they want politically. As you might expect, there are wealthy donors on both the political left and the right who will continue to spend money on U.S. elections. Some critics have called for a constitutional amendment restricting spending that would overturn recent Supreme Court decisions.

Nicholas Confessore, “Koch Brothers’ Budget of $889 Million for 2016 Is on Par With Both Parties’ Spending,” New York Times , 26 January 2015, http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/27/us/politics/kochs-plan-to-spend-900-million-on-2016-campaign.html.

Do you agree, as some have argued, that the Constitution protects the ability to donate unlimited amounts of money to political candidates as a First Amendment right? Is spending money a form of exercising free speech? If so, does a PAC have this right? Why or why not?

Questions & Answers

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Source:  OpenStax, American government. OpenStax CNX. Dec 05, 2016 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11995/1.15
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