Massachusetts Fair Share

We stand up for a Massachusetts where everyone gets a fair shot, does and pays their fair share, and plays by the same rules.

More money in politics … what’s next?

A brief look at the McCutcheon Ruling and prominent responses from across the nation.

SupremeCourt

In a move that caused a collective groan from democracy advocates, on Wednesday (April 2), the Supreme Court struck down a decades-old cap on the total amount any individual can contribute to federal candidates in a two-year election cycle (McCutcheon vs FEC).

While the total impact of how much more money this will bring into politics is unclear, it certainly shows that the Supreme Court intends to continue its pattern of making it easier to use money to influence elections as a part “free speech.”

Some notable responses:

Chief Justice John Roberts: “There is no right more basic in our democracy than the right to participate in electing our political leaders.”

Justice Breyer, in dissent: “Taken together with Citizens United v. Federal Election Comm’n, today’s decision eviscerates our Nation’s campaign finance laws … The result … is a decision that substitutes judges’ understandings of how the political process works for the understanding of Congress; that fails to recognize the difference between influence resting upon public opinion and influence bought by money alone; that overturns key precedent; that creates huge loopholes in the law; and that undermines, perhaps devastates, what remains of campaign finance reform.”

Bernie Sanders: “What world are the five conservative Supreme Court justices living in? To equate the ability of billionaires to buy elections with ‘freedom of speech’ is totally absurd. The Supreme Court is paving the way toward an oligarchic form of society in which a handful of billionaires like the Koch brothers and Sheldon Adelson will control our political process. Freedom of speech, in my view, does not mean the freedom to buy the United States government…”

John Boehner: “Freedom of Speech is upheld.”

Mitch McConnell: The court recognized “…that it is the right of the individual, and not the prerogative of Congress, to determine how many candidates and parties to support.”

John McCain: The most prominent Republican to disagree with the ruling, whose 2002 McCain-Feingold law reformed the use of “soft money” in U.S. politics. McCain said “…that as a result of recent Court decisions, there will be scandals involving corrupt public officials and unlimited, anonymous campaign contributions that will force the system to be reformed once again.”

FiveThirtyEight’s Harry Enten noted: “… only 2,972 donors maxed out to committees, and only 591 maxed out to candidates … Only 646 donors hit the limit on both committees and candidates …” Enten also noted that because Super PACs already allow unlimited giving, this impact of the decision is that it increases the power of the parties themselves.

Some of our thoughts:

Let’s face it. Money was already flowing quite freely during election season before this ruling. Sheldon Addelson spent some $92 million supporting candidates in the 2012 elections.

Citizens United created the Super-PAC, which allows wealthy donors to contribute immense sums of money to help their favorite candidates, now they can give more to various candidate and the party committee directly.

To us, the most important implication is what this says about where we are going. Another ruling emphasizing that Court believes that any interference with the “right” of the super-wealthy to translate that money in political clout is an unacceptable loss of liberty. Meanwhile, equality in our democratic system is not a concern. Should a case to overturn contribution limits per candidate, currently $2,600 in primary and general elections, come to the Supreme Court in the near future, it is very possible they could decide there should be no money limit to money in politics at all. Clarence Thomas said as much in his concurring statement.

We have to change course. The road we are on is clear – more power for the super-donors. The only way we’ll do that is if we can make it better politically to side with the people than with the money, and that’s no easy task. It will take a movement. Let’s get started.

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This entry was posted on April 3, 2014 by in Uncategorized.
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