June 25, 2012

Supreme Court Fails Again

By CREW Staff

Supreme Court buildingToday the Supreme Court, in a 5-4 vote, summarily reversed the Montana State Supreme Court decision upholding the state’s prohibition on corporate political expenditures.  This decision makes clear that for a majority of the Supreme Court, Citizens United is the last word on this issue. 

Last month, CREW and other campaign finance reform advocates joined in asking the Supreme Court to deny review of the Montana decision or, alternatively, grant review and reconsider its holding in Citizens United that independent expenditures do not give rise to corruption or the appearance of corruption and affirm the judgment of the Supreme Court of Montana.  But a majority of the Court ignored the factual record developed in the Montana case of an election system historically corrupted by corporate special interest money, and reversed the Montana Supreme Court without briefing and oral argument.

The Supreme Court, like Congress, has become so politicized that it risks losing all credibility.  An institution that once enjoyed high public confidence, it has lost considerable ground, thanks in great part to this thoroughly criticized decision.  Those justices appointed by Republican presidents seem intent on doing all they can to provide a competitive advantage to their elected compatriots.  Why should our jurists worry about the corrupting influence of money or the jaded view of most Americans that our political leaders are bought and paid for?

As a result of today’s decision, Citizens United will stand and unlimited secret spending will continue.  The Court’s decision sanctions the current status quo whereby voters will be severely hindered in their ability to make informed decisions on Election Day as we are unable to discover who is attempting to influence our votes.

Until the current make-up of the Supreme Court changes, it appears the only recourse citizens have short of a constitutional amendment is to continue to push Congress to enact tougher campaign spending disclosure laws.  Absurdly, even though he once supported such disclosure, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (as well as Republican strategist Karl Rove) now claims making people accountable for their views is “thuggery.”  So, as CREW has noted before, passage of even such common sense reform is unlikely anytime soon.

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