Today, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS), upheld the controversial Citizen’s United ruling of two years ago. I’ve written about some of this in the past and I’ve talked to many people about the implications of this. However, there are two major tenets in this ruling that matter. One: that you cannot limit the amount of money spent during a campaign because that restrict free speech. Two: that two separate groups can raise funds and use their right to speech without corrupting the political candidate. Additionally, there were some ground rules that were established as to when you are considered breaking this ruling and in violation of the law. One of these is that the two groups cannot coordinate their strategies and that the two groups must remain independent of each other.
In this most recent ruling, the SCOTUS essentially has stated that there hasn’t been any reason to revisit their previous ruling and that it now also applies to states. This is important as Montana had laws on the books that limited the amount of money that could be donated. This law was put into place to fight corruption in 1912.
This ruling is difficult because on one hand, at what point can you limit the amount of money someone wants to spend of their own money on political speech without restricting freedom of speech? If someone is willing to let you put ads up and pay money for it, isn’t it your right to do so? That part of the ruling is really difficult to argue with. However, The part that isn’t hard to argue with is the lack of independence. This has been pretty well displayed during the Republican primary. Without some of the mega funders campaigns effectively folded. Santorum is a prime example of this where his primary doner pulled out and that ended his campaign. Was this person willing to fund him because their views aligned extremely well or was Santorum changing his views to align more closely with the doner? We’ll never know to be sure, but it’s likely that there was conversations between parts of the campaigns and the doner.
In the US we will likely continue to have huge doners and this will likely continue unabated until we are able to pass a law or constitutional amendment to make this sort of donation illegal. Many liberals argue that the 1st amendment for free speech wasn’t designed to allow the wealthy to say whatever they want. That it was to give an equal voice to everyone. Sadly, media is run by people that wish to make a lot of money. Until we figure out a better way to disseminate political information that is unfiltered, we will likely continue to have the same unbalanced views portrayed.