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June 26, 2008

Supreme Court Strikes Down "Millionaire's Amendment"

-- by Dave Johnson

This post originally appeared at Speak Out California

Nearly every Supreme Court ruling is 5-4 these days, with the far-right winning over the right. I guess they understand the need to dance with the wealthy corporatists that brung them. And I think they understand that this balance could change next year so they are rushing to establish as many far-right precedents as they can before that happens.

This one today is rich - literally. The Court ruled that allowing candidates to raise extra money if they face a self-financed millionaire violates the self-financed millionaire's freedom to use money to dominate all speech. Do you think I'm joking?

Supreme Court strikes down part of campaign finance law

The Supreme Court struck down on Thursday part of a U.S. campaign finance law that relaxes contribution limits for candidates facing wealthy, self-funded opponents, a ruling that could affect congressional elections in November.

By a 5-4 vote, the high court declared unconstitutional the provision known as the "millionaire's amendment" that Congress adopted out of concern that rich, self-financing candidates would have a competitive advantage.

Alito agreed with the arguments by [the rich candidate] that the law violated the constitutional free-speech rights of self-financed candidates, impermissibly burdening [rich candidate's] rights to spend his own money for campaign speech. [emphasis added]

Enabling the other candidate to raise as much money - from regular people - is "burdening" the rich guy. Wow.

Posted by Dave Johnson at June 26, 2008 10:16 AM

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Well, if one candidate chooses to self-finance his campaign (which, as I understand it, means NO outside contributions--from ANY SPECIAL INTERESTS), then why should his opponent be allowed to skirt campaign finance laws by getting more money than is LEGALLY allowed from contributors?
Who's to say that the "poor"
opponent's "increased funding" is going to come from ORDINARY people, rather than, say, the TELECOM INDUSTRY or BIG OIL or WALL STREET? Do you honestly think that a candidate who's being outspent by a self-financed candidate is going to refuse ANY contribution, especially if he (or she) really wants to win?
Sorry, but I don't see why this is such a bad thing. If we want REAL campaign finance reform, then make laws limiting the amount of money that ANY candidate can raise during a campaign cycle (I'd also suggest that any candidate who has money following the end of his/her campaign--regardless of the outcome--be required to return it to the contributors or donate it to a non-partisan/non-political charity. There's no reason why some incumbents should be able to START their re-election campaigns with millions of dollars sitting in the bank.)

Posted by: JosephW [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 29, 2008 11:52 AM

Well it WAS legally allowed to raise more when the opponent was dumping million in. That was the point - it was legal.

Yes, we want to limit the amount of money but the right says that using massive amounts of money to dominate debate is OK, so we haven't been able to change that.

Posted by: Dave Johnson [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 29, 2008 1:41 PM

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