New America Experts Respond to McCutcheson v. Federal Election Commission Ruling

Press Release
April 2, 2014

WASHINGTON, DC – Experts at New America’s Political Reform Program and Markets, Enterprise and Resiliency Initiative have been closely following McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission. Following this morning’s Supreme Court ruling striking down overall limits on political campaign contributions, New America experts shared their thoughts.

"Its a painful decision to read,” said Zephyr Teachout, Fellow with the Markets, Enterprise and Resiliency Initiative and an Associate law professor at Fordham, with a book on corruption coming out from Harvard University Press this fall. “Justice Roberts is so glib and impatient with the fundamentals of democracy. He's also inconsistent: bluntly relying on precedent in one area (citing "quid pro quo corruption" as the only governmental justification for campaign finance laws as a matter of unassailable truth), and just as crudely overturning it in another. He shows a lack of respect for both the rule of law, and democratic self-governance."

Mark Schmitt, Director of the Political Reform Program at New America, made the following statement:

“In today’s decision in McCutcheon v. FEC, five justices of the Supreme Court once again substituted their policy preferences and their theories about how money in politics works for the judgment of the elected representatives who saw the need for an overall limit on the amount one wealthy individual can pour into political campaigns as essential to fighting corruption. While the decision reaffirmed the validity of the basic limits on contributions, and of disclosure, it deeply undermines the system by which we have tried to shield democracy from economic inequality since the time of Theodore Roosevelt. Nonetheless, there are ways to reduce the influence of great wealth and make politics more responsive to what Justice Breyer identified as the voice of all the people. Promising experiments with small-donor public financing in many states and cities, and legislation recently introduced in Congress with broad bipartisan support can achieve many of the same goals without relying on the limits that the current Court has rejected.”