On Monday the Supreme Court struck another blow to American democracy when it announced its decision in FEC v Ted Cruz. (Yes, that Ted Cruz.) I’ll conclude this article with a question I really want you to ponder.
Chief Justice John Roberts was joined by Associate Justices Samuel Alito, Amy Coney Barrett, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Clarence Thomas in a 6-3 decision that overturned the part of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 which limited the amount a candidate could repay a loan to his campaign with cash raised after the election to $250,000.
Some background on the case is merited. The day before Election Day 2018 Senator Cruz loaned his campaign $260,000 that it did not need. Subsequent to the election he paid himself back using funds raised after the election; a clear and intentional violation of the 2002 law. The Court ruled that this provision in the law unconstitutionally burdens core political speech.
The biggest non-partisan problem in American politics is the influence of money. What the ruling does is give a deep pocketed candidate (or one with a deep pocketed donor) a huge advantage. Theoretically if you had unlimited money, you could run as expensive a campaign as imaginable and then raise money after you were in office (perhaps, by selling influence and don’t tell me that doesn’t go on!) to pay yourself and/or your financial angel back. We may as well change the saying from One man; one vote to One dollar; One vote.
This ruling is consistent with the “conservative” Court’s rulings of the last two decades. The root one is Citizens United in 2002 which opened up the floodgates for dark and foreign money. It was augmented in 2014 by McCutcheon. The Shelby ruling in 2013 did not involve money in politics it was just a full-frontal attack on voter protection and boost to voter suppression. All four combined aid the wealthy and powerful at the expense of the masses. They are all blatantly undemocratic! Note: It’s not just those four; I’m sure I missed a few others.
This latest ruling was by a vote of 6-3. All you John Roberts fans out there remember that while some of his decisions have been prudent, he consistently votes in favor of the Republicans and against the interest of democracy when any issue involves voting or campaigns.
The current Court is out of control. Removing the justices who merit it by impeachment (and yes, it is plural!) will not happen so the only solution is to increase the number of justices. I am calling on President Biden to do it now. It is very possible that the friends of democracy will not have simultaneous control of both the Senate (nominal that it is) and the White House for much longer. American democracy is under attack and its coming from within the beltway.
How long can American democracy stand when an unconstrained and effectively omnipotent branch of the federal government is targeting it?
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