Obscure Supreme Court Case ‘Worse Than Citizens United’, Would Give The Rich Control of Elections
Experts are saying an upcoming Supreme Court decision could change elections as we know them and allow a few hundred people to essentially buy elections.
During the current Supreme Court session, the nation’s top court will review McCutcheon v. Federal Election. The case is a challenge from the Republican National Committee and CEO Shaun McCutcheon to federal laws that restrict how much money a person can contribute to a candidate’s campaign or political party. If the laws are overturned, people would be able to contribute as much as they want to political campaigns, which many experts believe will allow America’s wealthiest to outright purchase elections.
Attorney Adam Lioz, who co-authored the court brief submitted by groups that support the current laws, including the NAACP, Sierra Club, and the American Federation of Teachers, says “Really what’s at stake here is whether there’s just a few hundred or a few thousand people who can dominate the entire election process in the U.S.”
In an interview, Lioz called the case a threat to “the integrity of our democracy,” saying “The Court has for years said that we can pass laws to fight corruption or its appearance. Obviously the prospect of contributors, wealthy contributors, giving large donations directly to political candidates raises that prospect of corruption or its appearance — and fairly directly. And then there’s also the more general sort of broader threat to the integrity of our democracy, when the citizens of a democracy accurately perceive that a very small number of wealthy donors calls the tune, and that practically speaking the size of one’s wallet determines the strength of her voice in our democracy. This is a direct threat to citizens’ participation, and to the legitimacy of the laws and policies that come out of our political process at the end of the day.”
Lioz went on to point out that “We already have a situation where candidates know that they have to appeal to the donor class, a very small percentage of the overall populace, in order to get in the game and run effectively. This decision, if it comes out badly, could put that phenomenon on steroids. And now all of the sudden, instead of thousands of people who are members of that donor class, we could have a few hundred people who are really playing this gatekeeper role across the country, where candidates are forced to make a pilgrimage to certain wealthy donors and make sure they get their stamp of approval in order to really be viable.”
(Image courtesy of Kjetil Ree)