The McCutcheon decision: If this is not corruption, what is?

Robert Reich writes: The supreme court is composed of five justices appointed by Republican presidents, and four appointed by Democratic ones. In the McCutcheon v FEC case decided on Wednesday, the five Republican appointees interpreted the first amendment to protect the right of individuals to pour as much as $3.6m into a political party or $800,000 into a political campaign.

The decision by those justices allows individual donors to buy – and federal officeholders to solicit – unparalleled personal influence in Washington. McCutcheon drowns out the voices of ordinary citizens.

Presumably, the individuals who were of concern to the majority of the court have incomes larger than the median US family income of roughly $50,000 a year and wealth in excess of the median American family’s wealth of approximately $70,000. It is very likely that these individuals have huge incomes and enormous wealth.

The decision rests on the court’s dubious finding that such spending does not give rise to corruption. That’s baloney, as anyone who has the faintest familiarity with contemporary American politics well knows. As Justice Stephen Breyer noted in his dissenting opinion: “where enough money calls the tune, the general public will not be heard”.

The majority’s decision to open the floodgates to big money would be less important if the distribution of income and wealth in America were more equal. But it has become extraordinarily unequal. Together, the richest 400 Americans now possess more wealth than the bottom half of the American population. A handful of billionaires are, at this moment, deciding on whom to place their multi-million dollar bets in the 2014 midterm election. The McCutcheon decision makes it easier for them to do so than ever before. They don’t need to go through political action committees or so-called “social welfare” organizations. The rich can now make their bets directly.

We have returned to the gilded age of the late 19th century, when the lackeys of robber barons placed sacks of money on the desks of pliant legislators. If this is not corruption, what is? [Continue reading…]

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

2 thoughts on “The McCutcheon decision: If this is not corruption, what is?

  1. Norman

    One things for sure, we don’t hear a peep from any Republicon about a activist type of court. The silence is defining.

  2. pabelmont

    The Mccutcheon decision is the answer to Republicans who say, “Will no one rid us of this troublesome thing, democracy?” Corruption and its cousin, the appearance of corruption, is in the eye of the beholder, and the SC5 are blinded to what most Americans would call corruption.

    In fact, the SC5 have effectively overturned an important “noise ordinance” in America, because campaign contributions beyond small amounts are like megaphones or sound-trucks which may be purchased by the rich and which allow the rich to drown out the voices of ordinary citizens.

    This is dangerous for ever so many reasons, but the greatests of these is that big money is, today, prohibiting the rational dealing with Climate change/Global Warming, and CC/GW is fast approaching (if it has not already passed) the point of creating a (mostly still to come) envoronmental catastrophy which will make wars and pestilences and holocaussts of the past look rather insignificant (if anybody, then, has attention for the past).

    See: NYT down-plays Climate Change—but we must not be fooled., a rant of mine.

Comments are closed.