There have been gradual series of previous judicial challenges to campaign finance rules (such as Buckley vs. Valejo in 1976) that equate monetary contributions with 1st amendment free speech rights that corporations somehow have. These culminated in the corporate personhood supernova with the Supreme Court's Citizens United v. FEC ruling in January 2010. The Supreme Court ruled that corporations (even if they are foreign owned) and the wealthy individuals behind them are at liberty to spend unlimited amounts of money to influence U.S. elections. The only firewall remaining is that they have to spend it independently of the candidate or party’s official campaign. In other words, the remaining limits are not very meaningful. The Citizens United v. FEC decision brought Super PACs roaming through our political landscape in a way the resembles the Lord of Darkness scene in Fantasia. According to the Billion Dollar Democracy report by Demos “More than 93 percent of the money Super PACs raised came in contributions of at least $10,000—from just 3,318 donors, or the equivalent of 0.0011 percent of the US population.”
Thanks to Alabama Coal Baron and profligate Republican Donor Shawn McCutcheon winning a rigged game at the Supreme Court with their ruling announced on April 2nd 2014, the entitled plutocrats have less of a need to go through political action committees or falsely defined "social welfare" organizations (such as Karl Rove's Crossroads organization) to place their political bets.
While the cap on donations to a single candidate still stands, what McCutcheon got recently the Supreme Court to rule as unconstitutional was the $123,200 aggregate limit for what any individual donor could give to candidates, parties or PAC's in a two-year election cycle. The aggregate limits are now an estimated $3.6m in an election cycle for a plutocrat who theoretically wanted buy up the whole Congress.
Here is what it absurd about the whole ordeal. While the 5 activist justices argued that legal precedent did not apply in their Citizens United ruling, they now used the “non-precedent” Citizens United ruling as a legal precedent for their McHutcheon ruling.
Here is what is even more outrageous about the whole spectacle. These same 5 Justices who made it easier for billionaires to buy elections were the same ones who made it more difficult for actual flesh and blood people to cast a vote in one through their similarly 5 - 4 Shelby County v. Holder decision in 2013 which ripped out the heart of the voting rights act. So according to the Roberts court the First Amendment’s phony “permitting” of wealthy donors and powerful corporations to buy an election commands more respect than the Fifteenth Amendment’s genuine granting of our right to cast a vote free of racial discrimination.
Since the Shelby County decision, at least seven states currently under GOP gubernatorial and legislative control which were previously covered under Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act have passed or implemented new voter restriction laws (Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Mississippi, Texas, Virginia, South Carolina, and North Carolina) passive aggressive ways to make it more cumbersome for to the less privileged to vote.