US Supreme Court Opens Up Federal Elections To Richest Bidders

Make no mistake, the US Supreme Court’s decision to remove limits on monetary donations to candidates for federal political office is a game changer. The New York Times editorial board weighs in on the implications:

John G. Roberts, Jr., Chief Justice of the United States of America.

John G. Roberts, Jr., Chief Justice of the United States of America.

The Supreme Court on Wednesday continued its crusade to knock down all barriers to the distorting power of money on American elections. In the court’s most significant campaign-finance ruling since Citizens United in 2010, five justices voted to eliminate sensible and long-established contribution limits to federal political campaigns. Listening to their reasoning, one could almost imagine that the case was simply about the freedom of speech in the context of elections.

“There is no right more basic in our democracy,” Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. wrote in the opening of his opinion for the court in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, “than the right to participate in electing our political leaders.”

But make no mistake, like other rulings by the Roberts court that have chipped away at campaign-finance regulations in recent years, the McCutcheon decision is less about free speech than about giving those few people with the most money the loudest voice in politics.

Five conservative members of the court agreed that the aggregate limits violated “the most fundamental First Amendment activities” a citizen may exercise. Four of them voted to leave the per-candidate limit in place, but Justice Clarence Thomas would have gone even further, striking down all contribution limits as unconstitutional…

[continues at the New York Times]


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25 Comments on "US Supreme Court Opens Up Federal Elections To Richest Bidders"

  1. Guerrilla_Grodd | Apr 3, 2014 at 11:15 am |

    As if they ever followed the laws to begin with. This is not the death of Democracy, it was already long dead.

  2. Liam_McGonagle | Apr 3, 2014 at 11:42 am |

    Cash is the only reliable indicator of a person’s intelligence and wisdom, so this decision just makes good sense.

    • mannyfurious | Apr 3, 2014 at 11:53 am |

      I mean… somebody had to say it, right?

    • Anarchy Pony | Apr 3, 2014 at 12:16 pm |

      Donald Trump on line two.

      • Liam_McGonagle | Apr 3, 2014 at 12:28 pm |

        See? There’s a bright side to everything. Doom comes just that much faster.

      • kowalityjesus | Apr 3, 2014 at 11:40 pm |

        The folks you actually see covered are the innocuous ones. Rob Ford, Donald Trump, Ron Paul, Pat Buchanan….anyone who has undergone a character assassination by MSM is A+ in my book.

    • I think of cash as being more like the Eucharist. By receiving it, one unites with the Ground of Being, the Source of all.

    • Rhoid Rager | Apr 3, 2014 at 1:29 pm |

      Ironically, the vast majority of the world’s transactions are not carried out in cash. Equally ironic is the coming minsky moment-type credit implosion, which will likely validate your satirical incision.

    • Only if you assume that the past judgement of the masses of people are the sole measure of intelligence and wisdom. Since money tends to measure historical calculations of worth (even if that history is but a week or two ago as measured by a paycheck) one can only get a guess at the historical prowess behind the person (and not necessarily his or hers – marriage or a friend who hasn’t forgotten can make things happen). (and notice I didn’t include the lottery, since a startlingly high amount of time that money disappears)

  3. mannyfurious | Apr 3, 2014 at 11:52 am |

    This decision doesn’t bother me. It’s not like democracy in this country wasn’t being bought and sold since its inception. If anything I appreciate that we’re moving closer and closer to not lying about it at all. Let them at least be honest about how scummy they all are.

    • Reuben the Red | Apr 3, 2014 at 12:21 pm |

      I agree cynically, except that this ruling and the Citizens United ruling make it more possible to spend more dark money on political campaigns. These rulings are not exactly going to bring it all out into the open. Rather, it will never occur to 90% of the voters that their opinions are not their own but rather beamed directly into their little skulls by big marketing and junk news.

      There was more secret money spent in the 2012 elections than ever before, and while there was secret money invested on both sides of the increasingly irrelevant aisle, for some reason conservative campaigns received two or three times as much secret money as left wing campaigns.

      It should be further noted that the Citizens United ruling also made it legal for an organization or corporation to specifically spend money *against* any particular candidate, it need not be associated with advocating *in favor of* particular candidate or party platform. That’s a huge game-changer. No one in their right mind in the Senate or the House of Representatives would ever again do anything that would restrain one penny of corporate money or corporate power, or they would promptly face a barrage of negative campaign money.

      • Liam_McGonagle | Apr 3, 2014 at 12:38 pm |

        I don’t think there’s any “secret” agenda.

        Americans flatter themselves as having ‘won’ the Cold War due to the superior virtue of their consumerist society. Cash is the marker of virtue. Why wouldn’t they entrust the direction of society to their betters?

        If their kids don’t like it now, well tough t*ttie. You buy the ticket, take the ride.

        • kowalityjesus | Apr 3, 2014 at 11:45 pm |

          There has always been a secret agenda, with mysterious and ethereal avenues of power, in a more numinous sense. The enemy of the dark is cooperative and positive people. Despair not! Subversion is a continuous process.

      • mannyfurious | Apr 3, 2014 at 12:40 pm |

        So let me throw out a question, cynically, to you:

        How much worse can any of this really get?

        I mean, in my opinion, it can’t–not in any meaningful way. Calling this country a “Democratic” one is an outright lie and it always has been. These days we’re scraping the bottom of the barrel. These assholes don’t represent us. They don’t even pretend to, anymore. Forty years ago we at least had guys like McGovern and Carter and even Teddy boy–whom I think all felt some duty to represent and serve the people, even if some had more dirt on them than others.

        These days we have Bernie Sanders and…..

        The system is completely broken and I just don’t believe these kinds of rulings make it “more” broken. There’s going to be secret money floating around regardless, and these rulings don’t make that sort of thing any easier. That’s why it’s called “secret.” Because nobody’s “seeing” it.

        Corporations have always found loopholes in the campaign process. I don’t believe for one second that the old laws prevented corporations from doing whatever the hell they wanted to do.

        • Woobniggurath | Apr 4, 2014 at 3:07 pm |

          How much worse can it get? Burma. China. Syria. Egypt. et. al.

          In this country there still exists a popular culture raised to expect redress for official and corporate wrongdoing, and which still can get it in some measure. The impulse is atrophying but as long as people believe public justice is possible, it is possible. It is in cultures where people have no expectation of justice that none is possible

  4. BuzzCoastin | Apr 3, 2014 at 1:03 pm |

    nothing changed
    except to make the norm legal
    just in case the illegal bribes were noticed

    buying politicians is normal in democracies & totalitarian gruberments
    the Supremes just helped make it more easy & legal

  5. Reuben the Red | Apr 3, 2014 at 1:19 pm |

    I listened to John Roberts’ confirmation hearings live as they took place, I remember how he explained to the Senate that he had no personal ideological beliefs of any kind, and that he would decide any and all cases purely on the merits brought before him, and by the strict standard of the laws on the books. Now it’s plain to see that was not true, he has not ruled cases purely on the merits brought before him, nor has he respected standing precedent. Citizens United could not have occurred without John Roberts (or someone like him) on the bench, because the larger precedent of regulating campaign donations was not even originally in question: Roberts took the exceptionally rare step of telling the lawyers in that case to come back in six months and argue a much larger precedent. Why? Why should a Justice decide arbitrarily that a legal issue should be overturned, and then instruct an attorney to bring a case attempting to overturn a larger legal precedent?

    Roberts was asked in his confirmation hearings how he would rule, as a former corporate defense attorney, in the case of any given lawsuit of personal harm or civil rights violated filed by an individual against a corporation, and he answered that he would simply interpret the law as it applied in a given situation. Which is not really an answer, since that’s arguably what all the Justices do, yet so many controversial decisions are split 5-4. Apparently “the law” is not so cut and dry. But that is not what I found most disturbing about his answer.

    I would argue that a good Justice would in fact be sympathetic to the individual’s case against a corporation, and approach a corporation’s case of no fault or no harm or no violation of law with suspicion, however they might rule in the end. Here’s why: because if individuals are not given special consideration before the law with respect to corporations, their vast resources, media influence and legal defense teams, then WHY HAVE A JUDICIARY, except as a mediator between corporations? The individual who has been unlawfully fired, or poisoned, or injured, or whose wages have been stolen, has no hope of justice in a world run by corporations. The Justice Department should and could serve as a bulwark of personal freedom against the encroaching totalitarian state. Rather, the court is now stacked against us, first by Bush II, then by Obama (who, I will point out, replaced two leftist Justices with two measurably more conservative, in sum swinging the court even farther towards religious fundamentalism and corporate tyranny).

    From the perspective of the individual, individual liberty, individual freedom of speech and freedom to associate with others, and individual freedom from undue harms, dangers and threats: how is a nation without any courts at all, different than a nation where the courts can demonstrate no interest in protecting the individual from any harm the world’s most powerful financial entities might inflict? In other words, if the court can’t put people before money, WHAT IS THE POINT OF HAVING A COURT? Couldn’t we just be ruled by decree? Couldn’t we just make our appeals to the sympathy of BP or DuPont’s CEO? Or we could make our appeals to some kind of data-processor into which every line of every legal code had been programmed. Remove entirely the silly and unwieldy element of human compassion or empathy.

    The Supreme Court is a farce on a certain level, and it always has been, for all of American History; it’s a track record garnished with good rulings and splattered with bad rulings. Justices are almost never representative of the population (there has never been a Native American on the Court), but they do represent a very narrow variety of ideologies. Things are going to get ugly in the next few decades, and one thing we can be sure of, the Roberts court is always going to rule on the side of corporate power and upward redistribution of wealth, whether the issue is elections or healthcare or free speech or mass incarceration and prison slave-labor.

    • kowalityjesus | Apr 3, 2014 at 11:35 pm |

      I have never had any doubt that the schtick Roberts touts with his butt-fuckingly-phony suppressed smile is nothing short of a CHEAP facade to convince media consumers that he is a humble and ideologically reasonable fellow.
      I am surprised people don’t more often talk about ass, ass… in nation towards these people. No one is invincible, and would keep them honest. People that don’t have any particular reason to be disgruntled are even less suspect. Does anyone else think that the resources devoted toward monitoring citizen activity are great enough that this comment was actually read by a human and my priority level was upgraded?

  6. David Cameron | Apr 4, 2014 at 6:25 am |

    This is probably the worst decision US Supreme Court has made on our democracy. The oligarchs are going to rule forever. It’s up to the average Americans to rise against these pimps and prostitutes. I urge all Americans to not give money to campaigns or organizations that funnels money to these oligarchs. Remember, every countries of the world must have to reset its political organization back to our founding principles. It’s time for USA!

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