Sen. Bernie Sanders issued a blistering criticism of the Supreme Court after they strengthened Citizens United by overturning Montana’s campaign cash ban.
In response to the Supreme Court overturning a Montana Supreme Court decision that upheld a state law against corporate campaign contributions that stated, “corporation may not make . . . an expenditure in connection with a candidate or a political committee that supports or opposes a candidate or a political party,” Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) tore the court a new one.
In a statement Sanders said,
I am extremely disappointed but not surprised that the U.S. Supreme Court reversed the Montana court ruling that would have allowed limits on campaign contributions.
The U.S. Supreme Court’s absurd 5-4 ruling two years ago in Citizens United was a major blow to American democratic traditions. Sadly, despite all of the evidence that Americans see every day, the court continues to believe that its decision makes sense.
In recent weeks, multi-billionaires such as the Koch brothers and Sheldon Adelson have made it clear that, as a result of the Citizens United decision, they intend to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to buy this election for candidates who support the super-wealthy. This is not democracy. This is plutocracy. And that is why we must overturn Citizens United if we are serious about maintaining the foundations of American democracy.
I intend to work as hard as I can for a constitutional amendment to overturn this disastrous Supreme Court decision.
In his famous speech at Gettysburg during the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln talked about America as a country ‘of the people, by the people and for the people.’ Today, as a result of the Supreme Court’s refusal to reconsider its decision in Citizens United, we are rapidly moving toward a nation of the super-rich, by the super-rich and for the super-rich. That is not what America is supposed to be about. This Supreme Court decision must be overturned.
Due to the media frenzy created by the court’s immigration decision the campaign finance ruling has been largely ignored, but it can be argued that the Montana ruling is more important to the future of our democracy than the immigration case.
The Arizona immigration law decision was largely centered on an argument about federalism. The question before the court was, who had the right to make immigration policy?
In the larger context, the Montana ruling was more significant because the court found that states can’t do anything to limit corporate contributions to campaigns.
Our system of governance is just that, a system. How our government acts through the policies it pursues and the laws it passes depends on the people that the voters elect to represent them. The elected officials decide how the system operates, and what direction it goes in. By strengthening Citizens United, the Supreme Court has ensured that corporations who have a vested interest in anti-immigrant laws, like the private prison industry, will have an outsized influence on our elections.
While the court’s decision on an emotional issue like immigration gets all the headlines, the bigger story for our democracy is that the High Court has expanded the reach of Citizens United to the state level.
Today’s Supreme Court decision again demonstrated that until Citizens United is overturned the rights of all Americans, Latino and otherwise, will remain under attack.