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After Citizens United, Roberts Ruling on McCutcheon Unsurprising

Art: Chief Justice Roberts announces opinion in McCutcheon (Art Lien) - via Scotusblog

Art: Chief Justice Roberts announces opinion in McCutcheon (Art Lien) – via Scotusblog

Donors can now spread money around to more candidates, and no longer have a ready-made excuse (“sorry, I’ve maxed out to my aggregate limit”) for the next candidate-fundraising call. But the most any given donor can give to any given candidate or party committee is still capped. In 2014, the max donation is $5,200 per candidate and and $32,400 to a party committee. That figure is adjusted each election cycle based on inflation. – Kenneth P. Vogel [Politico]

YOUR AVERAGE American won’t miss a beat over the Supreme Court ruling today, which widens the opportunity for donors to share their wealth with more candidates of the political party or parties of their choice. On the whole, people think our national politics is corrupt and skewed toward the well-connected and rich anyway, which it is. After Citizens United, the further freeing of campaign donations through Chief Justice Roberts majority ruling on McCutcheon completes what his court began.

In fact, Citizens United was far worse, in my opinion. Chief Justice Roberts just followed that ruling to its logical extension on McCutcheon.

Lyle Denniston from Scotusblog:

The ruling came in the case of an Alabama businessman, Shaun McCutcheon, who sued (along with the Republican National Committee) because the two-year limits stopped him from giving anything to added candidates or political panels once his donations had reached the ceilings. He said he had no objection to keeping each specific donation within the so-called “base limits.” Curbing the number of candidates he could support, he and the GOP argued, infringed on his right to engage in political expression.

The Court majority agreed. The main opinion summed up: “An aggregate limit on how many candidates and committees an individual may support through contributions is not a modest restraint at all. The government may no more restrict how many candidates or causes a donor may support than it may tell a newspaper how many candidates it may endorse.”

The White House weighed in during the gaggle on Air Force One en route to Michigan. From Josh Earnest, principal deputy press secretary:

We’re still reviewing the details of the ruling that was issued today by the Supreme Court. That said, as noted in those reports, and you may even have seen the arguments, the Solicitor General defended the constitutionality of the Federal Election Commission limits on aggregate campaign contributions. So we are, in fact, disappointed in the decision that was announced today.

I think Justice Breyer summed up the disappointment rather cogently in his argument when he said that taken together with Citizens United, “today’s decision 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 resolve.”

The system is what it is and there’s no evidence it will ever be otherwise, with the Supreme Court part of the political mix.

Making every aspect of campaign donations transparent is really the only point to press, it seems to me.

If people know who’s bankrolling a party and a candidate that tells them a lot.

Campaign finance advocates are infuriated, Democrats particularly, but it’s not like Barack Obama didn’t work every aspect of the system to cement his advantage. That’s part of working the system, with Democrats as capable as Republicans of doing it.

What it means for people who want a more level playing field in election cycles, including outside candidates, is obvious. But again, the Roberts court through Citizens United sealed that reality first.

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11 Responses to After Citizens United, Roberts Ruling on McCutcheon Unsurprising

  1. casualobserver April 2, 2014 at 8:26 pm #

    This is a profoundly simple illustration of why this country will be divided forever in perpetuity.

    How an indisputably credentialed Constitutional scholar expresses himself………”Congress shall make no law…. abridging the freedom of speech.” Clear and concise.

    How a modern day liberal/progressive expresses himself……. “today’s decision 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 resolve.”

    Now, I am sincerely not trying to be ideologically partisan when I say is that not an awfully obtuse and stilted manner of explaining one’s beef?

    But that is not the main point. Rather, the Constitutional drafting duo of Mason and Madison saw the purpose of the First Amendment to emphasize “rights” whereas the liberal sees the apparent purpose to defend “laws” subsequently seeking to limit.

    It is undeniably the most fundamental of variance in comprehension of purpose. There is simply no point in even pursuing further conversation. We cannot coexist with the same sovereign geography.

    • Taylor Marsh April 2, 2014 at 11:43 pm #

      We are coexisting in the same sovereign geography, so there’s that, with this debate elemental to what’s gone terribly wrong since Rehnquist.

      There is also what flies right over the heads of conservatives and that of Chief Justice Roberts, which is that many indisputably credentialed liberals and progressive scholars simply do not see money as speech. It’s that simple, clear, and obvious.

      Conservatives do not understand or appreciate what Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. and Louis D. Brandeis believed, which is that the U.S. Constitution is a living document.

      Our founders could not have imagined what our democratic republic would become when the wealthy not only have earned privilege through their labor, which is as it should be, but also privilege in gaming the political system by using money others don’t have to influence elections unduly.

      This is what a great liberal mind understands: that the U.S. Constitution is not a document that can resolve the inequities of modern politics and the stuffing of the ballot box by other means than voting, namely money. Laws are required, “intended to resolve” this undemocratic act.

      It’s insane to think the U.S. Constitution doesn’t demand interpretation from the 21st century that goes beyond a view from the 18th century.

      • newdealdem1 April 3, 2014 at 12:11 am #

        I honestly don’t understand what it will take for conservatives to understand what you just fairly and sensibly and rationally just outlined. The founding fathers were too smart to create a unique document (at the time and into our times) that was supposed to be stagnant. That was one reason for making it possible to propose amendments. And, open to interpretation by justices on the Supreme Court.

        The U. S. Constitution is not a dead document as the conservative members at the Supreme Court continually use as an excuse to rule in favor of their own prejudices (and two of whom have conflicts of interest in doing their jobs: Scalia and Thomas who never recuse themselves – as Justice Kagan recused herself, for example – from cases in which their conflicts of interest ferociously drag us all down the rabbit hole of subjective partiality which is anathema to what our founders envisioned for those who were chosen to this American Olympian ideal.)

    • secularhumanizinevoluter April 3, 2014 at 4:46 am #

      “We cannot coexist with the same sovereign geography.”

      I look forward to your going away party. I’ll bring the chips.

  2. fangio April 2, 2014 at 11:39 pm #

    The country will be divided in perpetuity because conservatives wanted it that way and have worked towards that goal for twenty years, They have done everything in their power to take a country that worked and transform it into a high tech banana republic. Since the Democrats helped put Roberts and Alito on the court they have no one to blame but themselves. Ditto for Scalia and Thomas.

  3. newdealdem1 April 2, 2014 at 11:46 pm #

    Our democracy is practically on life-support. Judgements like this notorious and egregious one is anathema to what the founders envisioned for us as an on-going and (at the time) truly unique republic. Although slavery and constitutional rights reserved for white men only who owned property will forever taint that proclaimed exceptional mantra

    I find it hard pressed to believe that anyone who knows American history and never makes excuses or turns a blind eye to that “complex” history, would ever ignore the truth for xenophobic loyalty. But, even with all of these taints, our founders never envisioned our nation as an oligarchy but as a republic. The oligarchs had a win today which glommed on to the forced excretion known as Citizens United but it’s not over, yet.

    This shameful & bow down/bend over to father oligarchs is as bad as any reprehensible decision that the Supreme Court handed “down” to the country as in Plessy v. Ferguson (the precursor to Rosa Parks) “upholding the constitutionality of state laws requiring racial segregation in public facilities under the doctrine of “separate but equal”.

    And, so many more to choke on.

    We’ll have to have a Constitutional amendment to fix the damage done here.

    • Taylor Marsh April 3, 2014 at 12:10 am #

      Many people agree with the constitutional amendment point you raise. Given our politics today, it’s impossible.

      • newdealdem1 April 3, 2014 at 12:33 am #

        I know. And, since the ’70′s, it only gotten worse. I remember when we were oh so close to passing the ERA which (as you most certainly know) was supported by Democrats and many, many Republicans alike and led by then President Ford who was influenced by his terrific and one of the finest First Ladies to ever grace that role, Betty Ford (who must be doing elegant dancers-somersaults in her grave over those harmful and senseless comments made by Republican Mona Charen et al about feminism and women.) Oh, so close was the passage of the ERA (here is it’s history for those who need a bit of a refreshment about it’s fate:

  4. lynnette April 3, 2014 at 6:47 am #

    Elections have consequences – especially presidential ones. If there ever was a significant difference in presidencies, it manifests itself on the Supreme Court. This is depressing, but probably expected.

  5. Sandmann April 3, 2014 at 7:15 am #

    That’s the most dangerous truth to me: it is expected – the new norm. How much speech is in your wallet?

    • lynnette April 3, 2014 at 8:16 pm #

      Apparently, a lot – if your wallet is full. Seems like we’re going backward, not forward.

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