In McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, the US Supreme Court declared the cap on the total amount of money a donor can spend on a Federal election during a two-year election cycle invalid. Given the advent of Super PACs and 501c groups, as well as the increasingly creative nature of the accounting political campaigns use, this particular decision will likely have little added negative impact on elections. At best, this decision will make it easier for donors to give directly to candidates and a political party, which means such contributions will be subject to a certain degree of scrutiny.
That said, what those who dissent from this decision should be concerned about is the future invalidation of other campaign finance reform laws. Beyond that, the fact this ruling reinforces the assumption of Citizens United that spending money is a form of speech protected under the First Amendment is most alarming. If campaign finance reform laws had focused on limiting the amount of money that candidates can receive from donors/organizational donors, instead of the giving of monies by individuals/groups, and transparency, we may have never reached this point. As the Court’s thinking for now is locked into this faulted worldview where corporations are considered people and spending money is speech, we are stuck between a rock and hard place.
Not only has the current majority of the sitting Justices failed to consider the implications of testing the validly of limiting this form of “free speech” based on a narrow definition of corruption, i.e. bribery, which admittedly the Court is in a tough position as it must be apolitical, the Justices have failed to consider the broader implications of reaffirming the spending of money protected speech. Consider the individual mandate of the Affordable Care Act, which the Supreme Court treated as a tax. If spending money is free speech, the Court has created a paradox, i.e. Obamacare either violates our First Amendment right to free speech and the government does not have the power to tax or the power of taxation supersedes the First Amendment, which means poll taxes may be Constitutional. Therefore, the Court must, at least, narrow its ruling, i.e. the spending of money is only free speech when engaged in certain activities.
Furthermore, we must also question the Constitutionality of taxes. If spending money is free speech, the act of not spending money is also free speech. Consequently, we must have the right to not pay taxes, or at least certain taxes, as a form of protest against our government. If this line of reasoning and/or similar lines of reasoning hold true, our government cannot function in the real world due to the numerous paradoxes and potential limitations placed on government under the Supreme Court’s reasoning. Moreover, the Supreme Court is acting in a rather bizarre and irrational fashion due to some rather faulted assumptions on what spending money actually is while the real world consequences of their decisions must be stemmed with campaign finance reform laws that better address the money problem in election and compensate for the Court’s current paradigm.
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