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Another Supreme Court Decision Favors Big Spenders

PHOTO: Swing vote Justice Anthony Kennedy swung in favor of "big spenders" in the U.S. Supreme Court's McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission decision on Wednesday. Photo Credit: Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States
PHOTO: Swing vote Justice Anthony Kennedy swung in favor of "big spenders" in the U.S. Supreme Court's McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission decision on Wednesday. Photo Credit: Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States
April 3, 2014

CONCORD, N.H. – Another important campaign finance decision handed down Wednesday by the U.S. Supreme Court is provoking both celebration and consternation across the country.

Zandra Rice Hawkins, executive director of Granite State Progress, calls the 5-to-4 decision in McCutcheon v. the Federal Election Commission an incredibly disappointing ruling.

And she predicts it will limit the voices of the people in future elections.

"When we have rulings like this that give the rights and ability over a special corporate interest and drown out the voices of everyday Americans, that's a dangerous position to put our American democracy in," she stresses.

The Cato Institute and other groups 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.

Rice Hawkins says the ruling is out of synch with the wishes of New Hampshire, where residents have been working to limit the influence of big outside money at more than 40 town meetings.

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.

But, 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.

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.


Mike Clifford, Public News Service - NH