Monthly Archives: October 2013

Republican Support Grows Against Citizens United and Dark Money

In case you didn’t know, there have been 5 states in 2013 that have passed resolutions calling on Congress to pass a constitutional amendment overturning the Citizens United decision. These 5 states are Delaware, Illinois, Maine, Oregon, and West Virginia. This makes a total of 16 states that have passed resolutions so far. That is close to one-third of all 50 states.

Prior to 2013, the state resolution effort was supported primarily by Democratic legislators. That is beginning to change. In the 5 states passing resolutions this year, there was significant Republican support. For example, the majority of Oregon’s Republican House members voted for the resolution.

The support garnered from Republican state lawmakers on this issue is reflective of the support two ballot initiatives received from Republican voters on Election Day 2012. Continue reading

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McCutcheon v. FEC — the next Citizens United?

Stephen Spaulding, of Common Cause and the Hill’s Congress blog, recently addressed the latest threat to the fight to get money out of politics.

On Tuesday, October 8, 2013, the Supreme Court is slated to hear arguments in the case of McCutcheon v. FEC . Shaun McCutcheon, the lead plaintiff, is challenging the $123,200 limit on contributions a single donor may make to federal candidates and political party committees during any two-year election cycle… If McCutcheon prevails, he and similarly wealthy donors soon will be able to write campaign checks of up to $3.6 million a pop.

McCutcheon, in a July interview, said that he believes individuals should have “more influence” (What?! Is this a democracy or an oligarchy?). He also stated that there needs to be a “real, real good reason” to limit individuals’ ability to give to campaigns.

In fact, there is a very good reason, and it was identified by the Supreme Court in prior rulings: to avoid corruption or the appearance of corruption. In Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce (1990), the Court concluded that large contributions do represent corruptions or at least the appearance of corruption. Earlier, the decisions in  Buckley v. Valeo (1976) and First National Bank of Boston v. Bellotti (1978) presented the argument that even the appearance of corruption can be devastating, as citizens begin to lose faith in the democratic process.

All three of these precedents, however, have already been challenged by the current Court’s decision in Citizens United v. FEC (2010). The February blog post, Citizens United Ruling Part 3, detailed the arguments of each side. Will the Citizens United precedent stand, or will the Court go back to previous arguments to find a good reason to limit campaign contributions? The next few months will tell.