With all the hubbub around the Government Shutdown and Debt Ceiling fight, the Supreme Court is going to quietly hear arguments in McCutheon vs. Federal Election Commission.
This case will determine if the limits on individual contributions to candidates, political parties and political action committees in a two-year federal election cycle will hold. Currently, an individual is allowed to give $48,600 to candidates and $133,600 in total.
Since Buckley vs. Valeo in 1976 the court has held favorably to contribution limits because of the potential of corruption. In the Citizens United case in 2010 the court ruled 5-4 that corporations and unions could spend unlimited funds in support of or against candidates as long as the spending was independent of candidates.
We all know what happened after that case. Political Action Committees popped up all over the place and started pouring millions into elections. In 2012 over $600 million was spent by political action committees to try and sway the outcome of the elections. Over two-thirds went to conservative candidates.
Now a case is coming before the supreme court which could unlock the safe and allow the same kind of money to be contributed directly to candidates. What will be the outcome of such a decision? I am all in favor of supporting a candidate either with time or money. But could someone please explain to me how we cannot be suspicious of anyone who throws unlimited money in favor of one candidate? How can we not suspect that something funny is going on? What other reason could there be?
In Citizens United, the justices basically ruled that “spending” was just another form of free speech. Will the justices rule the same way in considering contributions? Three justices, Anthony Kennedy, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, have signaled their willingness to do so. Will Roberts and Alito, the other two majority votes in Citizens United agree?
Several “Red States” have passed stringent voting laws recently. They claim that they are “protecting the integrity of the ballot box.” Isn’t the integrity of the ballot box violated if individuals can buy politicians with unlimited contributions? And yet, these same politicians are not calling on the supreme court to keep limits in place. Their silence appears to be yelling to the supreme court to remove them. It seems since their hypocrisy has no limits contributions shouldn’t have any either.
Remember the infamous Norquist Pledge? If a politician agrees to vote the way Mr. Norquist and his political action committee says, they will receive donations and “spending” for them or against their opponent. If they don’t sign, Mr. Norquist will find someone else who will and throw his money in that direction. All but nineteen of the current Republican members of the House have signed the pledge.
Now when I went to school, Civics was a mandatory subject. As I recall, if a politician takes money from an individual or group to run for office, that is called a contribution. If a politician takes money from an individual or group to run for office and promises to vote certain ways on specific pieces of legislation favored by the money giver, that is called bribery!
Now, I am not a lawyer so it is not up to me to say if any of these politicians are guilty of accepting bribes. But, I do think they should be investigated as to whether or not they did.
What really bothers me is since there has been no investigation into what I believe to be the Norquist Bribery case, how can we expect to have any investigations into corrupt political donations if the limit is taken off. Citizens United has already opened a can of worms, this would take the can away and leave the worms to run the country.