Supreme Court offering “Elections for Sale”

Voice of the People by James J. Devine

The gulf between justice and a growing portion of the American public is cause for genuine concern.

Our nation’s history has been a journey towards true equality and the promise of a government of, by and for the people. Just as we have overcome many obstacles to achieve that promise, we must now be committed to standing up against the pervasive, corrupting influence of an electoral system that auctions offices to the highest bidder and suppresses the vote of millions of Americans.

McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission (FEC) is a federal lawsuit awaiting a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that may remove current limits on the amount of money rich donors could give to candidates and political committees, again allowing the wealthy to surpass the influence of average voters in the election process.

Four years ago, the Supreme Court deregulated independent campaign spending in Citizens United v. FEC. The high court is poised to rule any day now on McCutcheon, another potentially landmark constitutional challenge that could shake up campaign financing as dramatically as Citizens United did in 2010.

When Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote the majority opinion in Citizens United four years ago, he asserted blithely that the Internet age would ensure enough “prompt disclosure” to hold corporations and politicians accountable.

Nonprofits exempt from contributor disclosure rules, such as social welfare and trade groups, went on to spend more than $300 million on the 2012 elections, all without disclosing a single donor.

Critics say unlimited campaign spending by unions, corporations and nonprofits has had a devastating impact on politics.

“Recent election cycles have seen some troubling developments, to say the least,” said The Campaign Legal Center, a watchdog group trying to combat efforts that weaken campaign finance, election and ethics laws. “There is less disclosure of where big money is coming from; Super PACS and 501(c)(4)s are playing an increasingly larger roles; and the rules seem to change with every FEC Advisory Opinion and court decision.”

Money Out-Voters In launched in October 2012 with the broad base of groups signing on to a pledge to fight for the rights of all voters by raising the alarm about the growing influence of big money in politics as well as growing attacks on the right to vote.

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