Are US politicians legally bribed?

Money will play an even bigger role in US politics in the future: In a sensational ruling, the US Supreme Court lifted the restriction on campaign donations. So far, an individual was allowed to donate a maximum of 123,200 dollars (almost 90,000 euros) to candidates and parties in the two years prior to an election. However, this limit restricts the freedom of expression enshrined in the constitution, the Supreme Court ruled in Washington on Wednesday.

In plain language, the verdict means that the total upper limit for campaign donations has been lifted. Still in force, however, is the rule that a donor may not spend more than $ 5,200 to a single candidate for elections and primary elections in the future. But - and this is the innovation - there will no longer be any restrictions in future on how many candidates a single donor can help. So, in theory, a single donor can give a party up to $ 2.3 million, like that New York Times pre-calculates.

The verdict was tight with five to four judges' votes. The five judges who voted for the cap to be lifted were all appointed by Republican presidents, while the four opponents were all Democrats. Democratic President Barack Obama had warned against the abolition of the upper limit, as this would increase the influence of the rich on politics and make the fight against corruption more difficult.

Freedom also means being able to donate your money without restriction

Distributing large sums of money in the election campaign does not necessarily lead to bribery, however, according to the majority opinion read out by presiding judge John Roberts. There is no right in a democracy more important than the right to influence elections, said Roberts.

Critical voices were immediately heard. The verdict will "very likely increase the already large role of money in American politics," said the New York Times. To justify the judge's verdict with freedom of expression mocked the constitution, said J. Gerald Hebert of the Campaign Legal Center, which advocates reform of party funding National Journal.

The Chairman of the House of Representatives, Republican John Boehner, praised the verdict. "I'm for freedom. Congratulations!" Boehner told Washington Insider magazine Politico according to. The right to freedom of expression also includes the right to be able to donate one's money without restriction.

Observers expect the rich to have a strong influence on politics

An American from the US state of Alabama, who supported 16 candidates in the previous election campaign, had sued. He actually wanted to support other candidates and political associations financially, which the regulations forbade him. The plaintiff had argued that these restrictions restricted his constitutional right to freedom of expression. The court complied and found that donations reflected the exercise of the personal right to political will.

The ruling is likely to have a significant impact on the congressional elections in early November 2014. Observers expect the influence of the rich on US politics to increase dramatically.

As early as 2010, in the decision called "Citizens United", the Supreme Court had overturned the upper limits for election campaign funds from companies, associations and unions that had been in effect until then, with reference to freedom of expression. The verdict paved the way for the so-called Super Pacs: Political Action Committeeswho, as political interest groups, were involved in huge sums of money in the 2012 presidential election campaign. As long as they keep a certain distance from the candidates, Super-Pacs can accept an unlimited number of donations. The 2012 US election campaign was the most expensive in the world at $ 7 billion.

© dpa / AFP / Reuters / ipfa / mati / liv / sks