The Court does sometimes assume, without deciding, that a law is subject to a less stringent level of scrutiny, aswe did earlier this Term in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, 572 U. S. ___, ___ (2014) (plurality opinion) (slip op., at 10). But the distinction between that case and this one seems clear: Applying any standard of review other than intermediate scrutiny in McCutcheon—the standard that was assumed to apply—would have required overruling a precedent. There is no similar reason to forgo the ordinary order of operations in this case.
As Brian puts it, “If one favored relaxed scrutiny of contribution limits, I don’t know how much solace one’d find in that summary of McCutcheon.” Not that there’s anything new, but it does underline the uncertainty of the constitutional standard for all contribution limits these days.
Also notable is the apparent equation of Buckley’s “exacting scrutiny” for contribution limits with “intermediate scrutiny.”