Again, U.S. Supreme Court Decides Against Democracy

For Immediate Release

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Mary Boyle
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Again, U.S. Supreme Court Decides Against Democracy

McCutcheon ruling allows individuals to donate millions per election cycle, further drowning out voters' voices

WASHINGTON - The Roberts Court today continued its drive to give Americans a government of, by and for big money.

"Today’s decision in McCutcheon v. FEC is Citizens United round two, further opening the floodgates for the nation’s wealthiest few to drown out the voices of the rest of us," said Miles Rapoport, president of Common Cause.

"The Court has reversed nearly 40 years of its own precedents, laid out a welcome mat for corruption, and turned its back on the lessons learned from the Watergate scandal," said Rapoport. "This decision once again demonstrates the Court majority’s ignorance of the real world of American politics, the one in which big money buys big returns."

Thanks to today’s decision, a politician will be able to solicit a $3.6 million check for party committees and federal candidates from a single donor, consigning to background noise the hundreds of millions of Americans who can’t afford to give more than $5, $10 or even $100 to parties or the candidates of their choice.

"This is a return to the ‘soft money’ era, in which donors could hide six- and seven-figure gifts to individual candidates by donating the money to joint committees or party committees that simply passed it to the intended recipient," Rapoport said. "It’s naïve to think that such vast sums of political money do not buy special access and favors."

Whether in Washington, at the statehouse or at city hall, major donors get major access to the officials their money helps elect; their lobbyists are invited to help write and amend laws that impact their businesses, and they are rewarded with government jobs, contracts and tax breaks. This system already has helped produce economic inequality unlike any seen in America since before the Great Depression; the court today almost certainly made it worse.

"Today’s ruling makes it clear that, with the current Court, the only way to get meaningful campaign reform is by passing a constitutional amendment authorizing Congress and the states to limit campaign spending," said Rapoport.

Common Cause-backed resolutions calling on Congress to pass a constitutional amendment have been approved by voters, state legislatures or local governments in 16 states and hundreds of localities coast-to-coast. In addition, Common Cause will continue to push for public financing of campaigns at the federal, state and local levels, as well as improved disclosure of political money.

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Common Cause is a nonpartisan, nonprofit advocacy organization founded in 1970 by John Gardner as a vehicle for citizens to make their voices heard in the political process and to hold their elected leaders accountable to the public interest.

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