Wisconsin’s U.S. Senator Russ Feingold, a Democrat, today released a statement saying that the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in the Citizens v. FEC case is a “terrible mistake.” The decision handed down by the high court today will in effect allow corporate contributions to political parties.
Feingold has long been an outspoken supporter of keeping corporate funds out of elections. He co-authored the McCain-Feingold act in 2002 which bans “soft money” (money contributed to a political party rather than to a specific candidate) in campaign financing and put restrictions on corporate funded issue ads. In his response to the Supreme Court decision, Feingold vowed to work for legislation to reign in corporate control of national and local elections.
It is important to note that the decision does not affect McCain-Feingold’s soft money ban, which will continue to prevent corporate contributions to the political parties from corrupting the political process. But this decision was a terrible mistake. Presented with a relatively narrow legal issue, the Supreme Court chose to roll back laws that have limited the role of corporate money in federal elections since Teddy Roosevelt was president. Ignoring important principles of judicial restraint and respect for precedent, the Court has given corporate money a breathtaking new role in federal campaigns. Just six years ago, the Court said that the prohibition on corporations and unions dipping into their treasuries to influence campaigns was ‘firmly embedded in our law.’ Yet this Court has just upended that prohibition, and a century’s worth of campaign finance law designed to stem corruption in government. The American people will pay dearly for this decision when, more than ever, their voices are drowned out by corporate spending in our federal elections. In the coming weeks, I will work with my colleagues to pass legislation restoring as many of the critical restraints on corporate control of our elections as possible.
According to MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann, Feingold told Olbermann that the decision reflected “a Supreme Court run amok.”
The Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision overturned part of a 63-year old campaign finance law which said that corporations and unions can be prohibited from funding campaign ads, citing freedom of speech issues. Opponents of the decision including President Barack Obama say that special interest money will have too great a control of politics with the new ruling.
President Obama said in a statement: With its ruling today, the Supreme Court has given a green light to a new stampede of special interest money in our politics.” The President also said that the ruling will give special interests and lobbyists more power in Washington than they’ve had before “while undermining the influence of average Americans…” The President followed up by saying he would work to develop a “forceful” bipartisan response to the decision.
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