The decision was entirely about allowing a handful of big political donors to gain even more influence over our elections. Similarly, Gorsuch favors allowing politicians to reap the benefits of unlimited cash from these big donors – a position which should motivate every American who cares about the integrity of our democracy to oppose his nomination.
The problem of Big Money in our elections reached a crisis point after the Court’s Citizens United decision in 2010.
The Court threw out limits on independent expenditures. That led to an avalanche of spending, mostly by the nearly anonymous Super PACs and dark money groups flooding our TVs with political ads. The Court justified its ruling with a claim that these expenditures would not lead to corruption or the appearance of corruption.
But today, many of the mega-donors who funded the independent expenditures that helped elect President Trump have been given jobs in his Cabinet, or are wandering the halls of the White House. Some are already under scrutiny for pay-to-play politics. The Court’s assertion that this isn’t corrupt, or doesn’t even create the appearance of corruption, is absurd.
The Court later applied its see-no-evil, hear-no-evil logic to McCutcheon’s case.
In 2014, a 5-member majority threw out reasonable contribution limits for individuals. Justice Alito claimed that warnings about billionaires contributing huge sums to jumbo ‘joint fundraising committees’ were “wild hypotheticals.” Of course, that’s exactly what has happened.
Just like Paul Ryan promised “access to health care” that most Americans would never be able to afford, McCutcheon and his friends are giving all of us “access” to making unlimited donations. They might as well be providing us “access” to buying a house on Mars. In practice, the only ones willing and able to give politicians unlimited money are a handful of millionaires and corporations.
Contrary to McCutcheon’s unfounded assertion, no one is helped by this surge of cash. He claims the McCutcheon decision “helps candidates… empower voters with key information on the positions and values held by those seeking to represent them.”
However, a higher percentage of voters said that they “did not learn enough about the candidates and the issues” than in any election since 1996. In the same poll, 73 percent of voters said that there was “less focus on issues than usual” in the 2016 election, and a whopping 92 percent said there was “more mudslinging than usual.” No one, except for McCutcheon and his millionaire friends, feels empowered by the Big Money fueling our race to the political bottom.
It says a great deal about Neil Gorsuch that this advocate of Big Money supports him. Gorsuch’s opposition to contribution limits, his suggestion that he thinks campaign finance disclosure laws are unconstitutional, and his support from secret Big Money donors make him the wrong choice to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court.
We can’t accept the Gorsuch-McCutcheon approach to campaign finance. It’s time to get Big Money out of politics and fix our elections. To do so, we must reject Neil Gorsuch’s nomination to the Supreme Court.