By Chip Mellor
This avalanche of negative coverage is frustrating to free speech advocates because it isn’t warranted by the reality of super PACs. At their most basic level, super PACs are just groups of people that pool money to spend on political speech. Individuals have always been permitted to spend as much as they want on such speech as long as they act alone, but until recently federal law prohibited groups of people from contributing more than $5,000 apiece to do the same thing. That meant that Bill Gates could spend $1 billion on political ads if he wished, but if you got together with your neighbor, you’d be limited to spending $10,000 total. The Institute for Justice, allied with the Center for Competitive Politics, challenged that irrational restriction in a case called SpeechNow.org. v. FEC. Our victory in that case in March of 2010 laid the legal groundwork for the creation of what have come to be known as super PACs, which are just speaking in the same way that wealthy individuals have been allowed to speak for decades.