Submitted by Elaine Magliaro, Weekend Contributor
First, there was Citizens United. Now, we have the Supreme Court’s recent ruling in the McCutcheon case. It does appear that our country’s campaign finance laws may have been “eviscerated”—as noted by Justice Breyer when he wrote that, taken together with Citizens United, McCutcheon “eviscerates our Nation’s campaign finance laws, leaving a remnant incapable of dealing with the grave problems of democratic legitimacy that those laws were intended to resolve.”
Corporations are people…money is speech. The more money one has to spend…the more “speech” one can afford to buy—especially where political campaigns are concerned.
Dahlia Lithwick (Slate), in writing about Chief Justice John Roberts after the court’s ruling in the McCutcheon case, said that it seemed weird: “The man takes the Metro to work, and yet he handily dismisses what every human American knows to be true: That if dollars are speech, and billions are more speech, then billionaires who spend money don’t do so for the mere joy of making themselves heard, but because it offers them a return on their investment.”
Amy Davidson (The New Yorker) said that Roberts relied on a very narrow measure of corruption in the McCutcheon ruling: “Ingratiation and access … are not corruption.” She added that the argument, in effect, is that political parties themselves cannot be corrupted: “There is a clear, administrable line between money beyond the base limits funneled in an identifiable way to a candidate—for which the candidate feels obligated—and money within the base limits given widely to a candidate’s party—for which the candidate, like all other members of the party, feels grateful.”
Roberts wrote, “Congress may target only a specific type of corruption—‘quid pro quo’ corruption.” Roberts explains what isn’t “quid pro quo” with regard to spending large sums of money on elections:
Spending large sums of money in connection with elections, but not in connection with an effort to control the exercise of an officeholder’s official duties, does not give rise to such quid pro quo corruption. Nor does the possibility that an individual who spends large sums may garner “influence over or access to” elected officials or political parties. And because the Government’s interest in preventing the appearance of corruption is equally confined to the appearance of quid pro quo corruption, the Government may not seek to limit the appearance of mere influence or access.
Justice Roberts Defends the Embattled Rich in McCutcheon (The New Yorker)
The John Roberts Project (The New Yorker)