The McCutcheon v Federal Election Commission ruling which eliminates overall campaign contribution limits, merely confirms what Americans already know. The five Republican appointed Supreme Court justices (Roberts, Alito, Kennedy, Thomas and Scalia) are little more than party operatives for the GOP, intent on putting the country under the control of the uber-wealthy. This was abundantly clear after the landmark Citizens United ruling, and reiterated after the court once again struck a blow against campaign finance laws by lifting the cap on contributions. In the eyes of the five justices appointed by Republican presidents, free speech is anything but free. The person who can buy the most political influence is entitled to the best representation.
Chief Justice John Roberts sided with Sheldon Adelson, the Koch Brothers and other mega-donors by arguing that:
Spending large sums of money in connection with elections, but not in connection with an effort to control the exercise of an officeholder’s official duties, does not give rise to such quid pro quo corruption…There is no right more basic in our democracy than the right to participate in electing our political leaders...There is no right more basic in our democracy than the right to participate in electing our political leaders.
Of course in his obtuse argument he pretends that bankrolling a political candidate, since it is not a bribe for specific legislation, is therefore not a form of political corruption. In a blistering dissent, Clinton court appointee Stephen Breyer rejected that naive notion arguing that:
Speech does not exist in a vacuum. Rather, political communication seeks to secure government action.
He added that the Court’s ruling:
fails to recognize the difference between influence resting upon public opinion and influence bought by money alone.
The McCutcheon ruling illustrates the sharp and clear partisan divide on the ostensibly non-partisan court. The five justices appointed by Republican presidents showed that their loyalties are firmly aligned with America’s super rich. By contrast the four dissenting justices, all appointed by Democratic presidents, aligned themselves with the American people, and not with the corporate elite. This latest Supreme Court decision not only demonstrates the ruling majority’s allegiance with the one percent, but the case also serves as a reminder that which party holds the White House also determines the future direction of the Supreme Court. America is still paying the price for having electing two George Bushes. The Bush legacy is an ideologically reactionary Supreme Court that favors an aristocracy of the wealthy over a representative democracy where a voter’s worth is not measured by the depth of his or her pockets.