Supreme Court Sidles Up With Big Money

The Chief Justice ignores the corruption he is turning loose in America’s election system.

The much-anticipated U.S. Supreme Court decision in the pivotal campaign finance case, McCutcheon v. FEC, was issued on April 2. Once again the court ruled on the side of big money in knocking down aggregate campaign contribution limits. The case challenged the limits — limits designed to prevent corruption and the appearance of corruption — on the total contributions from an individual donor to candidates and political committees.

The importance of this decision cannot be overstated. While McCutcheon dealt with a technical matter of campaign finance law, in the end it is all about more money and more influence. This decision has opened up another loophole in campaign finance laws, allowing political parties and PACs to become huge funnels for corrupting elected officials across the country.

The court used the McCutcheon decision to continue dismantling the wall of protection against big money dominance in our political system — case by case, brick by brick. As in previous Roberts Court decisions, the Chief Justice ignores the corruption he is turning loose in America’s election system.

The McCutcheon decision means more power for big money — and more corruption for the rest of us. Now, we need to fight even harder to make every vote count and give every eligible voter free and fair access to the polls: the only reliable response to the rising flood of money in our elections is a flood of voters at the polls demanding campaign finance reform. 

Bills in the California legislature would require greater disclosure so that voters can ‘follow the money’ and see easily who is funding political activity. SB 27 (Correa) and SB 52 (Leno) are active bills that make up a comprehensive approach to improving disclosure laws in California.  These bills amend the Political Reform Act of 1974 to increase transparency for political ads and add specific requirements in disclosing donors.  The league urges the legislature and governor to support these measures.

In Alameda the League is holding a series of workshops to educate its members and the electorate about what other cities are doing to curb the influence of money in politics. 

Felice Zensius and Kate Quick are co-presidents of the League of Women Voters of Alameda.