Wall Street Journal: Political Speech, Limited Time Offer (In the News)

Floridians Paul Jost and his wife Laura Holmes each want to donate the full $5,200 to candidates but are capped by the $2,600 ceiling because their contributions did not come until after the end of the primary election. Mr. Jost wants to donate $5,200 to Republican Mariannette Miller-Meeks against Democratic Rep. David Loebsack in southeast Iowa, and Ms. Holmes wants to do the same for Carl DeMaio against Democratic Rep. Scott Peters in San Diego.

Their lawsuit, brought by the Center for Competitive Politics in federal district court in Washington, D.C., doesn’t challenge the $5,200 base limit but asks why a donation to a candidate could be fine in June but forbidden in July, though all of the money is going to support the candidate running for a single office.

In Buckley v. Valeo, the Supreme Court recognized that the only legitimate rationale for campaign-finance limits is to prevent quid-pro-quo corruption between a donor and candidate. The arbitrary time-limit distinction doesn’t pass that test. Why would a $5,200 contribution be uncorrupting one week and poisonous the next? The real point of the limits seems to be to tilt the donor field toward incumbents.
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The Center for Competitive Politics is now the Institute for Free Speech.