Statement of Tom Gerety, Brennan Center Executive Director, on the Supreme Court’s Ruling on Campaign Finance Reform
Today the Supreme Court upheld the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act. This is the most important decision on money in politics since Buckley v. Valeo, in 1976. What was at stake in todays decision was whether Congress can or cannot ban unlimited and undisclosed union and corporate contributions now known widely as soft money in American elections. The Court told us in no uncertain terms that Congress can regulate soft money, can ban it, in fact, in order to protect the integrity of our elections. Without this decision, loopholes would continue to swallow up our campaign finance rules. Campaign finance regulation requires three things: limits on political contributions; disclosure of the identity of contributors; and source restrictions aimed at institutions like corporations and unions that otherwise would overwhelm the voices of individual citizens, rich or poor.
Last year, the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act was passed by substantial majorities of both Houses of Congress and signed into law by President Bush. This was in response to an overwhelming popular demand for reform. The Courts decision recognizes that the American people, through their representatives, have the power to enact laws to protect our democracy from money.
Opponents of the law argued that the First Amendment denies the American people the power to do this. They say, in effect, that political contributions in whatever amount, from whatever source, are protected by the First Amendment. Today the Supreme Court rejected this simplistic argument.
The Brennan Center is proud to have been a part of this successful effort with so many other committed advocates of reform on both sides of the partisan aisle.
There are many more battles to wage in pursuit of a more open and inclusive democracy. Still, today is a day on which our system worked. Lobbyists of all stripes wanted this reform to fail. They wanted to keep things much as they have been. For all Americans who care about an open democracy, this is a real victory. Lets make sure it lasts.
Click here to see more documents on McCain-Feingold.
BRENNAN CENTER FOR JUSTICE AT NYU SCHOOL OF LAW
161 AVENUE OF THE AMERICAS, 12TH FLOOR
NEW YORK, NY 10013
212 998 6730 FAX 212 995 4550