The John Roberts U.S. Supreme Court is the most pro-corporation, pro-plutocracy court since the Gilded Age at the turn of the last century. The unelected “Felonious Five” conservative activist Justices of the Court are working overtime to legislate from the bench the foundation for a new corporatocracy ruled by über-rich wealthy elite corporate plutocrats.
“Son of Citizens United,” the McCutcheon v. FEC campaign finance case was decided today in a 5-4 decision by the usual suspects. Justices void overall contribution limits:
The Supreme Court on Wednesday issued one of its most significant campaign finance rulings ever, striking down the overall campaign contribution limits that currently prevented individuals from contributing more than $123,000 to candidates and party committees per election cycle.
In a 5-4 decision, the justices ruled that individuals should be able to give the maximum per-candidate and per-party contributions to as many party committees, presidential and congressional candidates as they want. Under the current limits, individuals could give no more than $123,000 in total and $48,600 to candidates for the 2013-2014 election cycle.
The court did not strike down contribution limits per candidate (now $2,600) and per party committee (now $32,400), but the decision does overturn previous rules that restricted individuals from giving those maximum donations to dozens of candidates and several party committees.
The Court’s reasoning is essentially that more money entitles one to more speech — for example, the billionaire bastard Koch brothers should be able to spend unlimited amounts of money to drown out the speech of millions of Americans in the 99%:
“Contributing money to a candidate is an exercise of an individual’s right to participate in the electoral process through both political expression and political association,” the justices wrote. “A restriction on how many candidates and committees an individual may support is hardly a ‘modest Restraint’ on those rights. The Government may no more restrict how many candidates or causes a donor may support than it may tell a newspaper how many candidates it may endorse.”
Campaign finance watchdogs were quick to decry to ruling.
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) called Wednesday’s ruling “predictable” given that the Supreme Court had previously struck down elements of the campaign finance reform bill he wrote and sponsored.
“I was deeply disappointed, but it is what it is,” McCain said shortly after the ruling was announced. “I predict again, there will be major scandals in campaign finance contributions that will cause reform.”
“There will be scandal,” he repeated. “There’s too much money washing around.”
* * *
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), in comments after the decision, derided the campaign finance law McCain helps spearhead, known as “McCain-Feingold,” and praised the Supreme Court.
“What I think this means is that freedom of speech is being upheld,” Boehner said. “You all have the freedom to write what you want to write. Donors ought to have the freedom to give what they want to give.”
You can read the opinion Here (.pdf).
Jesse Wegman at the New York Times Taking Note blog writes, McCutcheon: Another Blow to Democracy:
The Supreme Court’s 5-to-4 ruling on Wednesday striking down aggregate limits on political campaign contributions is no less destructive for being so widely predicted.
Until today, federal laws prevented an individual from directly giving more than $123,200 to political candidates and committees during any two-year election cycle — an amount already so high that only a few hundred donors reached it in the 2012 election.
After today’s ruling in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, a single donor will be able to give $3.6 million dollars in one election cycle — money that political parties can funnel into specific campaigns with the full knowledge of who gave it.
The purpose of contribution limits is to prevent the corrupting power of money from overtaking the democratic process. But the court, in an opinion by Chief Justice John Roberts, portrayed that risk in the narrowest and most unrealistic way, holding that it was not enough to overcome the First Amendment’s guarantee of free speech — translated here as money.
As Justice Stephen Breyer wrote for the four dissenting justices, the court’s ruling “rests upon its own, not a record-based, view of the facts,” and “eviscerates our Nation’s campaign finance laws.”
The court left in place, for now, the per-candidate contribution limit of $5,200 per election cycle — what Justice Breyer called “a remnant incapable of dealing with the grave problems of democratic legitimacy that those laws were intended to resolve.”
Justice Clarence Thomas in a concurring opinion argued that he would strike down all contribution limits. The per-candidate caps were not at issue in this case, but that will be the next legal challenge for the GOP and its corporate masters:
Justice Roberts wrote that this issue was not on the table, but given the current make-up of the court, that is little reassurance for a democracy that is already awash in the money of a very few extremely rich and unrepresentative donors.
The only way to stop this assault on democratic government is to amend the Constitution to make it clear that: (1) corporations are not people, (2) money does not equal speech, and (3) government has the right to regulate the financing and expenditures in campaigns, including to establish a publicly financed campaign system.
It is time for Americans to rise up in righteous indignation and to reclaim their democracy from the moneychangers of Wall Street, the corporations, and the über-rich wealthy elite corporate plutocrats who seek to enslave us as serfs in a corporatocracy. Let Citizens United and Son of Citizens United be the awakening of a second American Revolution.
UPDATE: Campaign finance reform advocate Fred Wertheimer noted in a conference call with reporters today, the five conservative judges are “on a path to destroy the nation’s campaign finance laws. It’s a step by step path but a path nonetheless…This is a Supreme Court operating in its own universe, its own world, completely ignoring or unconcerned with the reality of how American politics works today.”