Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) had a concise reaction to a Supreme Court ruling today that voided legal limits on contributions by individual donors to political campaigns: “What world are the five conservative Supreme Court justices living in?”
“Freedom of speech, in my view, does not mean the freedom to buy the United States government,” Sanders said. “To equate the ability of billionaires to buy elections with ‘freedom of speech’ is totally absurd. The Supreme Court is paving the way toward an oligarchic form of society in which a handful of billionaires like the Koch brothers and Sheldon Adelson will control our political process.”
If Sanders chooses to challenge Hillary Clinton for the presidential nomination in 2016, though, he’d likely get slammed by deep-pocketed donors loyal to the Clintons.
The case challenged the $123,200 cap on what donors may give to all candidates and political organizations during a two-year federal election cycle. It did not address the $2,600 limit on how much one individual may give to any specific candidate for Congress in any election, which stands.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who filed an amicus brief in the case, said the court “once again reminded Congress that Americans have a Constitutional First Amendment right to speak and associate with political candidates and parties of their choice.”
“In Shaun McCutcheon vs. Federal Election Commission, the court did not strike down individual contribution limits to candidates, political action committees or parties. But the court did recognize that it is the right of the individual, and not the prerogative of Congress, to determine how many candidates and parties to support,” McConnell said in a statement. “Let me be clear for all those who would criticize the decision: It does not permit one more dime to be given to an individual candidate or a party — it just respects the Constitutional rights of individuals to decide how many to support.”
Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), though, claimed the ruling “allowed big money to continue its manipulation of our democracy.”
“In an era where corporations are people and the wealthiest Americans buy elections, today’s decision further empowers a select few at the expense of the American people,” he said. “Make no mistake: this decision is a set-back for our freedoms.”