U.S. Supreme Court Strikes Limits of Financial Contributions by Wealthy Political Donors
U.S. Supreme Court Strikes Limits of Financial Contributions by Wealthy Political Donors in Mccutcheon V. FEC
DECISION WILL INCREASE THE ABILITY OF BIG MONEY TO DROWN OUT VOICES OF VOTERS IN CAMPAIGNS, WHICH ISSUES ARE ADDRESSED,
AND HOW THEY ARE RESOLVED
On April, 2, 2014, the United States Supreme Court issued a decision in McCutcheon vs. FEC in which a narrow 5-4 majority struck down the limit on the total amount that one wealthy donor is permitted to contribute to all federal candidates, parties, and political action committees (PACs) combined. In fact, an individual can now donate up to $3.5 million to an individual campaign, political party, or political organization, instead of the prior cap of $123,200. The former “aggregate contribution limit” of $123,200 over a two-year election cycle was in fact more than twice the average income for an American household.
This decision is another blow to our ability to defend our democratic government from further domination by the wealthiest among us, who can now increase their ability to influence politicians, politics, which issues are debated, and how those issues are resolved. Conversely, it will have the impact of further drowning out the voices of ordinary Americans, who cannot afford to donate $3.5 million.
The influence of money in politics is ever increasing, informing who stands for office, who wins, and, most critically, the eventual public policy Congress enacts. Big money is the main reason Congress is increasingly out of step with the interests of everyday Americans, particularly on issues of economic insecurity, and particularly with racial and ethnic minorities and low-income Americans.
In order to offer a balance to misguided court decisions such as McCutcheon v. FEC and to restore some sanity to politics, the NAACP supports legislation such as the Government By the People Act (HR 20) and the Fair Elections Now Act (S 2023) which would boost the influence of small donors and help millions more Americans, rather than just a few big donors, play a central role in determining who runs for Congress, who wins elections, and what issues make it onto the agenda in Washington. Both the Government By the People Act and the Fair Elections Now Act are carefully crafted to withstand constitutional scrutiny, and would establish a competitive alternative to our big-money dominated campaign finance system. The NAACP also supports constitutional remedies to restore the authority of Congress and the states to effectively regulate the amount of money that candidates for public office and others may spend in election campaigns.
In short, the NAACP supports actions to empower our communities to have a voice in their government, electing better representatives, enacting better policy, and achieving a better, more representative democracy.