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How to Put U.S. Voters Back in Charge of their Democracy

The Supreme Court's Citizens United decision unleashed an era of unprecedented pay-to-play politics. Thankfully, steps can be taken to curb the outsize influence of big donors and Super PACs and restore voters' trust in their political institutions.

Published: January 21, 2014

Four years ago today, the Supreme Court ushered US democracy into a new age of big money and pay-to-play politics. In Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the court ruled in favor of unlimited independent political spending by corporations and other outside groups, which ultimately led to the creation of "super political-action committees," or super PACs. The consequences were immediate and clear: Outside campaign spending exploded, making politicians more beholden than ever to their biggest donors, and creating an appearance of political corruption that threatens to further undermine voters' trust in US democracy.

Although overturning the Citizens United decision would be the most direct path to undoing big donors' newest power to secure special treatment, that is unlikely without a shift in the court's membership. For the foreseeable future, reasonable people will continue to debate the constitutional question of what kind of spending is protected by the First Amendment and who – or what – can exercise that right. The good news is that, even absent a new Supreme Court decision, other steps can be taken to restore protections against undue donor influence and voters' trust in their political institutions.

Read the entire article at The Christian Science Monitor.