Wednesday, April 2, 2014

McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission

The FEC loses 5 to 4, and so does government of the people, by the people, and for the people.

Justice Breyer, summarized dissent for himself and Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan.

“Today the Court overrules Buckley and strikes down a similar ceiling [on overall contributions] as unconstitutional,” Breyer says. “The Court substitutes for the current two-year overall contribution ceiling of $123,000, the number infinity.”

“If the Court in Citizens United opened a door, today’s decision may well open a floodgate,” he says.
“Taken together with Citizens United, today’s holding, we fear, eviscerates our nation’s campaign finance laws, leaving a remnant incapable of dealing with the grave problems of democratic legitimacy that those laws were intended to support.”
Quid pro quo corruption is not the only danger, Breyer says. “The appearance of corruption accompanying multi-million dollar contributions can make matters worse. The public may come to believe that its efforts to communicate with its representatives or to help sway public opinion have little purpose. And a cynical public can lose interest in political participation altogether.”

“We believe,” Breyer concludes, “that today’s decision substitutes judges’ understandings of how the political process works for the understanding of Congress, fails to recognize the difference between influence resting upon public opinion and influence bought by money alone, overturns key precedent, creates serious loophole in the law, and undermines, perhaps devastates, what remains of campaign finance reform.”

“With respect, we dissent,” he adds.

And so do we, but without the qualifier.

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