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Another U.S. Supreme Court Decision Favors Big Spenders

PHOTO: In a 5-4 decision this week, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the limit on what a donor can give to all candidates in a single election cycle. Photo courtesy Library of Congress.
PHOTO: In a 5-4 decision this week, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the limit on what a donor can give to all candidates in a single election cycle. Photo courtesy Library of Congress.
April 4, 2014

SANTA FE, N.M. – Another important campaign finance decision handed down this week by the U.S. Supreme Court is provoking both celebration and concern across the country.

The 5-to-4 ruling in McCutcheon v. the Federal Election Commission means instead of a total of $123,000, a single donor who gives to all Congressional candidates and one-third of Senate candidates in an election cycle can give as much as $3.5 million dollars.

Paul Ryan, senior counsel with the Campaign Legal Center, says the McCutcheon ruling, combined with the Citizens United ruling of 2010, opens the floodgates wider to give the wealthy more influence over politicians.

However, he does see a small silver lining.

"The court did in fact leave the door open for more narrowly tailored corruption-preventing policies that Congress might pass, and that state legislatures and city councils across the country could certainly pursue," he points out.

Groups such as the Cato Institute applauded the ruling, which says restricting the total amount a donor can give violates the donor's First Amendment rights and doesn't prevent corruption.

Marge Baker, vice president of People for the American Way, says the McCutcheon decision, which she sees as a major threat to democracy, is bound to generate a wide range of responses.

"From amending the Constitution to small-donor public-financing proposals," she says.

Other critics of the decision say the Court is ignoring previous laws passed by Congress, past presidents' decisions to sign those laws, and even the Court's own precedents.



Troy Wilde, Public News Service - NM