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Fate of Democracy Now in Supreme Court’s Hands

Sept. 9, 2009

Fate of Democracy Now in Supreme Court’s Hands

Statement of Robert Weissman, President, Public Citizen

(Note: Public Citizen’s Scott Nelson is one of the attorneys representing the key congressional sponsors of the McCain-Feingold law and co-authored their amicus brief. He was in the courtroom today and reported that one thing was clear: No matter where people stand on the issue, they agree that Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission is a critical case that raises fundamental questions about how our democracy is going to be carried out. As Justice Stephen Breyer accurately characterized it, the challengers, who want to allow corporations to have more influence over elections, want to “make a hash of” our campaign finance laws.)

Overturning the court’s precedents on corporate election expenditures would be nothing short of a disaster. Corporations already dominate our political process – through political action committees, fundraisers, high-paid lobbyists and personal contributions by corporate insiders, often bundled together to increase their impact, and more.

If the court rules to free corporations to make unlimited campaign expenditures from their treasuries, the election playing field will be tilted massively against candidates advancing the public interest. Candidates and elected officials will be chilled from standing up for what’s right. And officials who take on the narrow interests of particular corporations – over a facility siting decision, or a specific subsidy, for example – will face the risk of retaliation in the next election. 

Corporations don’t vote, and they shouldn’t be permitted to spend limitless amounts of money to influence election outcomes.

Note: Public Citizen has launched a campaign designed to draw attention to the possibility of the justices rolling back a century’s worth of legal precedents designed to curb corporate influence over federal elections. For more information, go to www.DontGetRolled.org.