AL party leaders spar over campaign contribution limit ruling - WSFA.com: News Weather and Sports for Montgomery, AL.

AL party leaders spar over campaign contribution limit ruling

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The high court struck down limits in federal election laws on the total amount of money people can contribute per year. (Source: MGN) The high court struck down limits in federal election laws on the total amount of money people can contribute per year. (Source: MGN)
HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) -

Alabama political leaders are praising and denouncing the Supreme Court's decision on political campaigning and free speech in a case that started in Alabama.

The court struck down limits in federal election laws on the total amount of money people can contribute in an election year.

Whether this will affect elections in Alabama depends on who you ask. Democrats said it will bring in boatloads of outside money to sway elections here. Republicans said it will only mean more chances for people to freely get politically involved.

Alabama's Republican Party chairman Bill Armistead called the decision a victory for free-speech rights, and for Alabama. The court threw out the limit on the total amount of money an individual could donate, leaving intact the $5,200 limit on how much someone could give to a single candidate.

Leading Democrats said the decision gives too much influence to donors with big pockets. "It's really disappointing," said Clete Wetli, Chairman of Madison County Democrats. "I know the Supreme Court is saying perhaps corporations are people. Now they're saying money is people."

Those limits were challenged by Alabama businessman Shaun McCutcheon and the National Republican Committee. McCutcheon hoped to give to campaigns he supported around the country.

"It's absolutely going to have an impact on elections here, and it's really a shame," said Wetli. "I don't think elections should be bought and sold."

"All citizens should be able to exercise that freedom," countered Armistead. "I don't see that it's going to have any impact."

The ruling further loosened up restrictions on political campaigning that the Supreme Court already relaxed with its Citizens United decision, which gave companies more leeway in political campaigns.

"We don't want to punish those who have been successful and have earned this money over the years," Armistead said. "We should be proud of that instead of discouraging them from getting involved in the process. We need people at all levels involved in the process."

The Supreme Court's liberal justices advocated keeping the limits. The conservatives called them an infringement on freedom of speech and reaction to the decision has generally fallen along party lines – but not entirely. Arizona Republican Senator John McCain said he was concerned it opened the door to more influence by special interests.

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