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He said the justices are being asked to balance the “First Amendment negative” of a limit on one person’s giving with the “First Amendment positive” that comes from average people believing their small-dollar contributions have an effect on elections.

But he said that division gets mixed up because wealthy individuals can still spend unlimited amounts of money independently.

“Now, that’s, I think, the question that’s being asked. And I think that that is a very serious question, and I’d like to know what flows from it,” he said. “Is it true? So what? What are we supposed to do?”