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Another Supreme Court Decision Favors Big Political 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

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

Paul Ryan, senior counsel with the Campaign Legal Center says the 5-to-4 ruling in McCutcheon v. the Federal Election Commission opens the floodgates wider to give the wealthy more influence over politicians.

"That's the real impact of today's decision,” he says. “Removing the $123,000 cap and now, allowing contributions in excess of $3.5 million to go to candidates and parties, combined."

Groups applauding the ruling include the Cato Institute, which says restricting the total amount a donor can give violates First Amendment rights and does not prevent corruption.

But after the decision, at least 140 protests were held in 38 states and the nation's capital.

Despite his disappointment with the ruling in general, Ryan says there is 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 says.

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 points out.

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.



John Michaelson, Public News Service - MN