Once again, the United States Supreme Court does not seem to understand that in the world of politics and in American history, the influence of money does have a corrosive effect on political campaigns and elections. In their 2010 ruling in Citizens United v. FEC, the Court ruled that money equated with free speech and that corporations have the right to donate unlimited money to political campaigns. Up to the point of the ruling, the Bipartisan Campaign Finance Reform Act ("McCain-Feingold") limited corporate donations to Political Action Committees ("PACs") to solely promote "Issue Advocacy" which also required quick and full disclosure of its donors. After the Citizens ruling, corporations have been allowed the tap to literally be turned wide open allowing unlimited anonymous donations through "Non-Profit" PACs (as long as the contributions do not go directly "through" the campaigns themselves). The ruling was considered to affect only national political campaigns, as many states had existing laws limiting campaign contributions in state wide races. Seems Montana has a long history of having its state run politicial campaigns and elections corrupted by dirty money from copper barons and other moguls. Montana, therefore, challenged the Citizens ruling and was aided by an additional 22 states in an attempt to limit the affects of the ruling to just national campaigns. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in the case of American Tradition Partnership v. Bullock that Citizens DOES apply even to state campaigns and despite the actual reality that unlimited money can corrupt elections, ruled that Montana and every other state may not limit the amount of money a corporation through a PAC may contribute. Seems the Court just can't seem to understand that when it comes to politics and elections, money talks.
Daniel R. Rubin is an Attorney, Educator, Lecturer and National Award Winning Author. He is a recently retired adjunct professor of American History who also taught Advanced Placement United States Government and American Politics in Venice, Florida.