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WV Grassroots: McCutcheon “A Noose" at the Neck of Democracy

PHOTO: Ordinary people in West Virginia such as Barbara Frierson are calling the U.S. Supreme Court decision in McCutcheon v. FEC a "threat to democracy." Photo credit: Dan Heyman.
PHOTO: Ordinary people in West Virginia such as Barbara Frierson are calling the U.S. Supreme Court decision in McCutcheon v. FEC a "threat to democracy." Photo credit: Dan Heyman.
April 3, 2014

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The U.S. Supreme Court has struck down aggregate limits on individual contributions to federal candidates, political parties and political action committees.

The court's opinion says existing limits are a violation of free speech.

Barbara Frierson, a retiree who came out to protest the decision at the State Capitol, says she couldn't disagree more strongly with the court.

"It ties the noose around the neck of democracy in this country,” she says. “And there are some billionaires that are going to take great advantage of this decision."

There were protests in 140 places around the country, including Washington.

The McCutcheon decision is supported by free market organizations that argue political contributions are a form of speech.

But Frierson points out that a single rich person could now spend $3.5 million pushing personal interests.

The limit had been $123,000.

Frierson says a lot of elected offices may just go to the highest bidder.

"If money is speech, then if you have no money, you have no speech," she notes.

This ruling follows the Citizens United decision, which said in essence that corporations are people, and have the same free speech rights that citizens do.

But Frierson is convinced that the only way to prevent wealthy donors from overwhelming the democracy is a constitutional amendment overturning Citizens United.

"We are thinking that it's going to take a constitutional amendment to say that corporations are not persons,” she says. “Basically, the Supreme Court has taken away all of the other legal options that we might've had."


Dan Heyman, Public News Service - WV