WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court today struck down the so-called "millionaire's
amendment" as an unfair way to help opponents of wealthy candidates who spend
from their personal fortunes.
The law allows candidates to receive larger contributions when their wealthy
opponents spend heavily from their personal fortunes.
The Court decided by a 5-4 vote in Davis v.
FEC that the law violated the First Amendment.
The law was challenged by Jack Davis, a New York Democrat who has so far
spent nearly $4 million of his own money in two losing campaigns for Congress
and says he will spend another $3 million this year.
Davis said the law unfairly rewarded his opponents by letting them exceed
campaign-fundraising limits simply because Davis dipped into his personal
Writing for the majority, Justice Samuel Alito said that if the millionaire's
amendment raised the contribution limits for all candidates, Davis' challenge to
the law "would plainly fail."
The amendment is part of the 2002 Bipartisan
Campaign Reform Act, but has come into play in relatively few races. Its
most prominent beneficiary so far has been Sen. Barack Obama. He was able to
attract additional contributions for his Democratic senatorial primary campaign
in Illinois because an opponent spent nearly $29 million of his own money.
Davis lost in 2004 and 2006 to Republican Rep. Tom Reynolds, who spent more
than $5 million in winning re-election two years ago, 51% to 49%.
Reynolds chose not to solicit increased contributions after Davis triggered
the millionaire's amendment by putting at least $350,000 of his own money into
the race. Reynolds could have received $6,900 from individual donors, triple the
limit otherwise. Reynolds is retiring at the end of this term.