Court strikes down restrictions on corporate campaign financing
Story by Chris Graham
“Their decision announced today in Citizens United v. FEC is constitutionally irresponsible and will surely bring about an anti-democratic revolution in how we finance elections in this country. Today, basic pillars of American democracy have been undermined – that elections should not be corrupted by vast corporate wealth and that the voters should be at the center of our democratic system,” said Mary G. Wilson, the president of the League of Women Voters, on the ruling handed down today that struck down restrictions in federal law restricting donations to political campaigns from corporations.
Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing for the 5-4 majority on the Court, opined that the restrictions effectively suppressed “political speech on the basis of the speaker’s corporate identity. “No sufficient governmental interest justifies limits on the political speech of nonprofit or for-profit corporations,” Kennedy wrote.
Fifth District Congressman Tom Perriello, who backs bipartisan legislation that would create a voluntary public-financing system for federal elections, is, for his part, “dismayed” at what could be coming with the corporate-financing floodgates opened.
“When I worked in West Africa, companies would give money to public officials for private gain and we had a simple word for it: corruption,” Perriello said. “I’m dismayed that the Supreme Court has further opened the floodgates for corporate capture of our democracy, taking our government away from Main Street and surrendering it to the insurance companies, oil companies, and big banks that foot the bills for 30-second spots.
“Does anyone really think that unlimited corporate campaign spending won’t undermine the voice of the people?” Perriello said.
President Barack Obama, in a statement released by the White House, said the Court “has given a green light to a new stampede of special interest money in our politics.”
“It is a major victory for big oil, Wall Street banks, health insurance companies and the other powerful interests that marshal their power every day in Washington to drown out the voices of everyday Americans,” Obama said.
“This ruling gives the special interests and their lobbyists even more power in Washington–while undermining the influence of average Americans who make small contributions to support their preferred candidates. That’s why I am instructing my administration to get to work immediately with Congress on this issue. We are going to talk with bipartisan congressional leaders to develop a forceful response to this decision. The public interest requires nothing less,” Obama said.