My thoughts on the United States Supreme Court’s decision in McCutcheon v. FEC can be summed up thusly:
Paul Campos of Salon has an excellent writeup of just how awful the Supreme Court’s decision in McCutcheon really is. Here’s a highlight.
And now, Wednesday, the next blow to attempting to keep the rich from being able to buy politicians as effortlessly as they purchase anything else has been struck by McCutcheon v. FEC, a Supreme Court case dealing with limits on how much money individuals can contribute to candidates.
McCutcheon has now struck down overall limits on individual campaign contributions. This latest outburst of judicial activism in the struggle to render campaign finance laws completely toothless is merely accelerating a historical process that is coming to seem almost inevitable.
To see why, consider the practical implications of the theory that weak or nonexistent limits on campaign finance will allow the rich to transform what is putatively a democratic republic into an unapologetic plutocracy.
If money can buy the political outcomes desired by the super-wealthy oligarchs at the apex of our increasingly unequal economy, then there are only two possible ways to avoid this result. First, we can assume that that there is a strong distinction between law and politics, that judges make legal rather than political decisions, and that legal decisions, unlike political outcomes, cannot be bought.
And here’s some reaction to the McCutcheon decision from lawmakers in Wisconsin, starting with Democratic State Rep. Chris Taylor.
“First the Citizens United ruling and now this? This Supreme Court seems intent on opening the floodgates for more and more political cash into our elections. Our republic was born out of bloodshed, out of the fight for independence. Our forefathers fought for individual rights and freedoms. I doubt any one of them thought those freedoms included the right to buy elections.
“Today’s ruling doesn’t impact the average American or the average donor. According to Billion Dollar Democracy, a US PIRG study, 32 super-rich donors contributed as much as 3.7 million small dollar donors in the last presidential election. Today’s ruling allows the super-rich to give even more money. By equating money with speech, the US Supreme Court is allowing more ‘speech’ for the most wealthy. This ruling threatens our democracy.”
Democratic U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin also issued a statement.
“This decision is extremely disappointing but not surprising coming from an activist court majority that has previously opened the floodgates of corporate special interest influence in our elections with the Citizens United decision. This is yet another step towards gutting campaign finance reforms and increasing the sway of the powerful and wealthy over our Democratic process. It is far too often the case in Washington that powerful corporate interests, the wealthy, and the well-connected get to write the rules, and now the Supreme Court has given them more power to rule the ballot box by creating an uneven playing field where big money matters more than the voice of ordinary citizens.”
The very notion that millionaires or billionaires have more free speech rights by virtue of the money said millionaires or billionaires possess is simply stunning and seems to me (and I’m sure many other reasonable people) to run counter to what our founding fathers had in mind for our country.