Connecting Citizens United to Super PACs

Richard Hasen has a good piece in Slate on whether or not Citizens United led to the creation of Super PACs. He argues that while Citizens was not the only court case that has equated money with speech and allowed unlimited contributions, money spent by outside groups has exploded since the ruling.

Over the last 35-ish years, the Supreme Court has been equating speech with campaign donations and political spending. This would make sense except that each citizen is supposed to have an equal voice. “One man person, one vote.” “All men people are created equally.” Etc.

If campaign spending (mainly on advertising) is effective (and if it weren’t effective, why would they do it?) then allowing people to donate in large/unlimited quantities gives them more of a political voice than someone who can’t. It skews the political process in favor of the rich at the expense of the poor. Is that what we want? Do we want the rich to be able to capture our political institutions and cement their place in society? Do we want inequality to continue to increase?

The only solution is a political class that is not beholden to those with more money than the rest of us. And the only way for that to happen is to get money out of politics. No donations. No independent spending to influence elections. Campaigns should be publicly financed with tax dollars. But the current Supreme Court will not allow that. The only real solution is an amendment to the constitution that makes it clear that speech and campaign spending are not the same.


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