Why You Need Pay Attention to McCutcheon v. FEC


Volunteers hold up an inflatable 'Fat Cat' near the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. October 2, 2013. Photo by Greenpeace.

Next week the Supreme Court will hear a campaign finance case that could make it even easier for rich people to buy elections.

It's called McCutcheon v. FEC. Alabama businessman Shaun McCutcheon wants to give more money directly to more candidates, so he has sued to abolish the longstanding cap on the total amount of money an individual can directly give to all PACs, parties and candidates, or "aggregate contribution limits." Today, individuals are barred by law from giving more than $123,000. If McCutcheon gets his way, donors will be able to give unlimited amounts of money.

McCutcheon now threatens to make a bad situation a whole lot worse. Big money has already infiltrated our elections. In its 2010 Citizens United decision, the Supreme Court initiated corporate America's takeover of American politics by allowing businesses and their millionaire executives to dump an unlimited amount of money into campaigns through Super PACs. The 2012 elections cost a whopping $7 billion thanks to the subsequent fundraising arms race.

Right now there's a little distance between big money and the candidates themselves. But if McCutcheon wins, this wealthy businessman could soon be depositing multimillion-dollar checks right into candidates' bank accounts.

So many Americans already feel like many of their elected officials aren't looking out for them. If the Supreme Court sides with McCutcheon, elections will get more expensive. Candidates will be spending more time with their donors at the expense of average Americans. How do we expect our elected officials to know the real issues and problems of working Americans, if they're spending all their time with the top 1 percent? The answer is they can't. Big money's influence will grow, as the political voices of workers get drowned out.

We're speaking out. Next Tuesday, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on whether or not to strike down important caps on how much money an individual can contribute directly to political campaigns. Activists and organizations across a wide spectrum of issues will be supporting protecting the integrity of our democracy at a rally on the steps of the court. CWA President Larry Cohen will be speaking, along with Reverend Dr. William Barber II, Moral Monday leader and chapter leader of North Carolina NAACP; Maryland Rep. John Sarbanes; Marge Baker, executive vice President of People For the American Way; Blair Bowie, democracy advocate for US PIRG; Phil Radford, executive director of Greenpeace USA; and Liz Kennedy, counsel for DEMOS.

WHAT: Rally against big money in politics and McCutcheon v. FEC
WHERE: The Supreme Court of the United States (1 First St NE, Washington, DC)
WHEN: Tuesday, October 8th at 9:30 a.m.