News & Politics

Looming SCOTUS Decision Could Deal Another Blow to Campaign Finance Regulations

McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission is a challenge to laws that restrict how much one person can donate to a candidate.

Members of the Supreme Court in 2010.
Photo Credit: Steve Petteway/Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States

A progressive attorney and expert on campaign finance laws is warning that a pending decision by the Supreme Court could deal a huge blow to efforts to keep the rich from disproportionately influencing elections.  Citizen’s United was one step on that path.  The new decision, says Demos counsel Adam Lioz, could mean more disaster, he told Salon’s Josh Eidelson.

The case at hand is McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission. It concerns a Republican National Committee objection to laws that restrict how much one person can donate to a candidate or a political committee in one election cycle.

“The worst-case scenario would be that the Court not only strikes down the aggregate limits, but does so in a way that calls into question contribution limits more generally, and puts them in the crosshairs,” Lioz told Eidelson.

The lawyer said that if the law is struck down, the integrity of American democracy comes into question.  “The prospect of contributors, wealthy contributors, giving large donations directly to political candidates raises that prospect of corruption or its appearance...There’s also the more general sort of broader threat to the integrity of our democracy, when the citizens of a democracy accurately perceive that a very small number of wealthy donors calls the tune, and that practically speaking the size of one’s wallet determines the strength of her voice in our democracy.”

As AlterNet’s Steven Rosenfeld has explained, decisions like Citizen’s United, which paved the way for the richest Americans to funnel secret cash towards their preferred candidate, have caused democracy to die “a death by 1,000 cuts in recent decades as political lawyers have chipped away at the anti-corruption provisions in campaign law.”


Alex Kane is former World editor at AlterNet. His work has appeared in Mondoweiss, Salon, VICE, the Los Angeles Review of Books and more. Follow him on Twitter @alexbkane.

Sign Up!
Get AlterNet's Daily Newsletter in Your Inbox
+ sign up for additional lists
Select additional lists by selecting the checkboxes below before clicking Subscribe:
Election 2018