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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 7, 2014

YANKTON, S.D. - Another important campaign finance decision handed down by the U.S. Supreme Court is provoking both celebration and consternation across the country. The five-to-four ruling in "McCutcheon vs. the Federal Election Commission" means it's unconstitutional to limit how much an individual can give in total contributions in a federal election cycle. The decision appears to open the way for multimillion-dollar donors.

According to Paul Ryan, senior counsel for the Campaign Legal Center, this ruling, combined with the "Citizens United" ruling of 2010, opens the floodgates wider to give the wealthy more influence over politicians. He does see a small silver lining, however.

"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 said.

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

At least 140 protests were held in 38 states and the nation's capital after the decision was announced.

Marge Baker, vice president of People for the American Way, said the McCutcheon decision, which she sees as a major threat to democracy, is bound to generate a wide range of responses, ranging "... from amending the Constitution to small-donor public financing proposals."

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

See the McCutcheon decision at SupremeCourt.gov.

Jerry Oster, Public News Service - SD