The lead article in today’s New York Times, “Justices, 5-4, Void Key Spending Cap in Political Races,” represents another catastrophe for those who believe that excessive money corrupts both individual candidates and governmental institutions. The ruling overturned the overall cap on individual contributions to federal candidates during any two-year election cycle.
The ruling complements Citizens United, a 2010 decision that removed the caps on corporation and union spending to so-called non-profit PACs. That decision led to increased power by individuals such as Sheldon Adelson, a billionaire who recently had all the 2016 Republican candidates scurrying to him for an audience. It is uncertain how the current ruling will affect the upcoming House and Senate elections, but it will certainly do nothing to stem the influence of rich individuals on our politicians.
Some campaign finance regulations remain, and the court has not overturned Buckley v. Valeo, a 1976 ruling that said campaign finance limits were acceptable to prevent corruption or the appearance of it. Many believe the Citizens United ruling conflicted with that decision, not to mention the current one.
There will be much wringing of hands among Democratic politicians about the current Supreme Court, and one can only hope that we will be able to choose the next few Supreme Court justices to right the balance. And eventually with current Republican intransigeance on national healthcare, maybe a Democratic takeover of our legislative bodies will occur as well.