Wednesday was a discouraging day for democracy. The Supreme Court voted 5-4 in McCutcheon v. FEC to lift aggregate individual campaign contribution limits.
Chief Justice Roberts wrote, in a majority decision that appears to be blindingly oblivious to political realities: “The Government has a strong interest, no less critical to our democratic system, in combating corruption and its appearance. We have, however, held that this interest must be limited to a specific kind of corruption — quid pro quo corruption — in order to ensure that the Government’s efforts do not have the effect of restricting the First Amendment right of citizens to choose who shall govern them.”
Justice Stephen Breyer dissented from the bench: “If the court in Citizens United opened a door, today’s decision may well open a floodgate.”
Indeed. A floodgate in which the voices of ordinary citizens will be drowned out even more than they have been already.
Sarah Darer Littman is an award-winning columnist and novelist of books for teens. A former securities analyst, she’s now an adjunct in the MFA program at WCSU, and enjoys helping young people discover the power of finding their voice as an instructor at the Writopia Lab.