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Supreme Court gives organized greed a boost

Jeremy Sprinkle
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No more limit to how many campaigns Big Money can buy

In 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court in Citizens United that corporations are people, money is speech, and they can spend an unlimited amount of money to influence elections.

This week on a 5-4 vote with conservative justices in the majority, the Supreme Court compounded that error, ruling that federal limits on aggregate campaign contributions, previously limited to $123,000 per election cycle – more than twice what average American families make in one year – are unconstitutional violations of rich folks' free speech. The case was McCutcheon vs. FEC.

Read McCutcheon v. FEC: What You Need to Know.

As Think Progress noted, "wealthy donors now have a broad new power to launder money to political candidates — they just have to be a bit creative about how they do it."

Labor responds to the McCutcheon ruling

The North Carolina State AFL-CIO released the following statement from Secretary-Treasurer MaryBe McMillan:

“Political inequality and organized greed got a boost from the Supreme Court that will cost working people and our democracy dearly.

“To paraphrase the legendary union and civil rights leader A. Philip Randolph, justice is never given; it is exacted and the struggle must be continuous.

“Today’s ruling in McCutcheon makes clear that, in our battle against organized greed, working people cannot count on the Supreme Court to deliver justice.

“We must organize workers throughout the South and across the nation and create a movement broad, diverse, and strong enough to save our democracy and our economy from plutocracy and decline.” -- MaryBe McMillan, NC State AFL-CIO

"The Supreme Court made one of the most undemocratic and corrosive decisions in history with the Citizen’s United ruling," said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka

"By striking down individual aggregate limits on First Amendment grounds, the Court has further tilted our political system in favor of corporations and the wealthy and against working people.  Our founding fathers did not intend for our electoral process to be the façade for political auctions.

"We need fundamental reform to get our democracy back on track. The average, ordinary American should have as strong a voice as the Koch Brothers do in politics." -- Richard Trumka, AFL-CIO

"Elections should not be like auctions—for sale to the highest bidder," said the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW).

"Yet this decision combined with Citizens United has created a wild west of campaign finance that allows a few super-rich Americans to disproportionately impact the outcome of elections." -- UFCW

“It would appear that we need to amend the Constitution to make it clear that corporations are not people, limit how much money individuals can spend on elections, and a prohibit corporate spending in politics and we need to do this soon," said Iowa AFL-CIO President Ken Sagar.

“Today’s announcement strikes a fatal blow to citizen democracy," said Montana AFL-CIO Executive Secretary, Al Ekblad.

"[McCutcheon] sets the stage for the total sale of our representative form of government to the multinational corporations and the ultra-rich."

"It is a dire day for students who need relief from college debt, workers who need family-wage jobs, young children who need quality public education, and every American that has a right to an equal vote and an equal voice in elections and the laws made that affect their community." -- Al Ekblad, Montana AFL-CIO

"Our founding fathers did not intend for our electoral process to be for sale to the highest bidders," said New Hampshire AFL-CIO President Mark S. MacKenzie:

"We need fundamental reform to get our democracy back on track. The average, ordinary citizen should have as strong a voice as super rich extremists like the Koch Brothers do in our politics."

What now?

American democracy is dead... "Or is it?" asks Matt Murray, writing for the New Hampshire Labor News.

"There is no way for the middle class to match the obscene amounts of money that the ultra-wealthy and corporations are dumping into campaigns but that does not mean the fight is over.  Only together can we make the changes needed to keep the money out of politics forever, and all you have to do is vote.  We outnumber them a million to one, and if we vote, their money will make no difference at all." -- Matt Murray, NH Labor News

You can start taking action by adding your name to Public Citizen's petition calling for a constitutional amendment overturning McCutcheon and Citizens United.

Share the above graphic with quote by MaryBe McMillan on Facebook.