With its recent McCutcheon decision, which buttresses their Citizens United decision, the U.S. Supreme Court has demonstrated its commitment to radical activism. The rationale presented by Roberts in his majority opinion is comical in its absurdity.
In McCutcheon, the Supreme Court not only eviscerates campaign finance law but violates the separation of powers by instructing Congress on what laws it may or may not pass: "Congress may target only a specific type of corruption — 'quid pro quo' corruption."
While admitting that Congress may limit "the appearance of corruption," Roberts explicitly excludes from his definition of corruption, "spending large amounts of money in connection with elections" even if this means that "an individual who spends large sums may garner 'influence over or access to' elected officials or political parties."
To any normal person, this is precisely the definition of corruption: individuals who donate huge sums of money to politicians are given preferential access to discuss their legislative desires with the elected politician, who then passes the laws that were requested (or written) by the rich donors.
Chief Justice John Roberts should be impeached for the perjury he committed during his confirmation hearings, in which he claimed that he would respect previous Supreme Court decisions. The only precedent Roberts could dredge up was Citizens United, which was a flagrantly activist departure from all previous judicial history.
In the minority opinion (written by four of the nine justices), numerous previous Supreme Court decisions are cited that diametrically contradict the McCutcheon decision. For example, in the Beaumont decision (2003), the Supreme Court "found constitutional a ban on direct contributions by corporations because of the need to prevent corruption, properly understood not only as quid pro quo agreements, but also as undue influence on an officeholder's judgment." In the McConnell decision, "the Court relied upon a vast record compiled in the District Court. That record consisted of over 100,000 pages of material and included testimony from more than 200 witnesses. … What it showed, in detail, was the web of relationships and understandings among parties, candidates, and large donors that underlies privileged access and influence. … Indeed, no one had identified a 'single discreet instance of quid pro quo corruption' due to soft money. … But what the record did demonstrate was that enormous soft money contributions, ranging between $1 million and $5 million among the largest donors, enabled wealthy contributors to gain disproportionate 'access to federal lawmakers' and the ability to 'influence legislation.' … There was an indisputable link between generous political donations and opportunity after opportunity to make one's case directly to a member of Congress."
In summary, the Roberts Supreme Court defines corruption so strictly that it does not exist. It does not require even the minimal subtlety of a Chicago politician to avoid the appearance of corruption with this court. You pay the money up front. Once in office, the congressman invites you to propose whatever legislation you want, which he then brings to the floor of Congress. Because you did not specify precisely which laws you wanted passed at the time you handed the suitcase full of cash to the politician, Justice Roberts declares that you have engaged in perfectly legal constitutionally protected speech!
Tom DeCoursey is a longtime resident of Oak Park.
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