Congressional Democrats were sharply critical of the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down overall limits on campaign contributions on Wednesday, painting it as a ruling that will allow more money to flow into political campaigns.
The case, McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, was the most consequential campaign finance ruling from the high court since the landmark Citizens United decision in 2010. Democrats said the ruling could lead to further corruption in political campaigns.
“Citizens United was one of the worst decisions in the history of the Court,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said in a statement. “Today’s ruling further drowns the voices of working Americans.”
Reid and other congressional counterparts argued that, like the Citizens United decision, the McCutcheon ruling would allow wealthy donors more freedom to influence elections. Reid also used the decision to slam Democrats’ favourite bogeymen — the Koch brothers — though he didn’t say how the ruling applies to them specifically.
The decision does away with a $123,200 cap on overall donations from an individual in a two-year election cycle — $US48,600 to all candidates and $US74,600 to all political action committees and parties. Donors no longer have to worry about brushing up against that $US123,000 threshold. The decision, however, did not touch the individual donation limits for contributions to single candidates or parties, which are set, respectively at $US2,600 and $US5,000.
“This in itself is a small step, but another step on the road to ruination,” said New York Sen. Chuck Schumer, the third-ranking Senate Democrat. “It could lead to interpretations of the law that would result in the end of any fairness in the political system as we know it.”
Democrats plan to respond to the decision. Vermont Sen. Pat Leahy, the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said he will hold a hearing on the effect of the McCutcheon ruling and other campaign-finance related decisions he said have “eviscerated” the campaign-finance system.
On the House side, Democratic Rep. John Larson said he plans to introduce legislation that would “fully reverse this latest Supreme Court blunder and reinstate restrictions vital to our electoral process on special interests.”
“Today, the Supreme Court again moved to hand our elections to the wealthiest among us by allowing political donors the ability to offer the maximum contribution to an unlimited number of federal campaigns,” Larson said in a statement.
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