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April 2, 2014

McCutcheon Ruling Requires Americans to Reclaim Democracy

Statement of Robert Weissman, President of Public Citizen

Note: Today, in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down limits on the aggregate amounts people can donate to candidates, political parties and political committees. Demonstrations that Public Citizen helped organize are scheduled to take place throughout the country in response. For more information, visit www.citizen.org/mccutcheon and www.moneyout-votersin.org.

Today’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission strikes a devastating blow at the very foundation of our democracy.

This is truly a decision establishing plutocrat rights. The Supreme Court today holds that the purported right of a few hundred superrich individuals to spend outrageously large sums on campaign contributions outweighs the national interest in political equality and a government free of corruption.

In practical terms, the decision means that one individual can write a single check for $5.9 million to be spent by candidates, political parties and political committees.

Even after Citizens United, this case is absolutely stunning. It is sure to go down as one of the worst decisions in the history of American jurisprudence.

Until today, nobody could contribute more than $123,000 total in each two-year election cycle to political candidates and parties.

Citizens United allowed Big Business to spend literally as much as it wants – predominantly in undisclosed contributions filtered through the likes of Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce – distorting our elections. But Citizens United money can go only to outside groups.

Now McCutcheon removes meaningful limits on the total amount an individual can directly contribute to candidates, political parties and political committees.

Yes, you and I now have the “right” to spend as much as we want, too.

But no regular person can compete with Charles and David Koch.

There are literally only a few hundred people who can and will take advantage of this horrendous ruling. But those are exactly the people our elected officials will now be answering to.

That is not democracy.

It is plutocracy.

Today’s reckless Supreme Court ruling threatens so many of the things we love about our country.

No matter what five Supreme Court justices say, the First Amendment was never intended to provide a giant megaphone for the wealthiest to use to shout down the rest of us.

Our only hope of overturning this McCutcheon travesty – along with Citizens United – is if millions of Americans band together in saying “Enough!” to plutocracy.

We couldn’t face a starker choice: Accept rule by the few, based on wealth. Or join together to protect and reclaim our democracy – the notion that We, the People decide.

Today, people across the nation will be responding with protests to this outrageous decision. We, the People insist that our government and our country remain of, by and for the people – all the people, not just those few who have amassed billions in wealth.

A vibrant movement for a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United and reclaim our democracy has emerged since the 2010 issuance of that fateful decision. The demonstrations today – unprecedented as a same-day response to a Supreme Court decision – are just the latest manifestation of how that movement is now exploding across the country.

We refuse to cede control of our country and our government to amoral multinationals and morally compromised plutocrats.


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