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Arm Yourself! Read Breyer's Dissent in McCutcheon v. FEC

April 3, 2014 in Blogs

By Sharon Wraight, Daily Kos

Hopefully, we can push back against the wreckage wrought by Roberts and Co.

Breyer writes in clear English. His arguments (signed with Ginsburg, Sotomayor and Kagan) are as informed and articulate a defense of campaign finance laws as you will find. It's better and more efficient to read him, than to read about him, imho. For the non-lawyers/scholars, just skip over the legal references, detailed case arcana, and anything else that isn't obvious — you'll still get the basic ideas.

If we arm ourselves verbally, we can help push back against the madness wrought by the Roberts/Scalia/Thomas/Alito/Kennedy court. These 5-4 decisions may well be overturned in the future — as has happened in the past with bigger majorities. Teaching ourselves, our children, and our friends and foes alike, will help bring that day closer.  

The following are selections from Breyer's dissent, which begins on page 52 (of 94) in the Supreme Court's PDF file (after Roberts' majority opinion). Breyer writes:

[Roberts, Scalia, Alito, Kennedy & Thomas's] conclusion:

* rests upon its own, not a record-based, view of the facts.

* Its legal analysis is faulty: It misconstrues the nature of the competing constitutional interests at stake.

* It understates the importance of protecting the political integrity of our governmental institutions.

* It creates a loophole that will allow a single individual to contribute millions of dollars to a political party or to a candidate’s campaign. …

Today’s decision eviscerates our Nation’s campaign finance laws, leaving a remnant incapable of dealing with the grave problems of democratic legitimacy that those laws were intended to resolve.

Breyer continues:
What has this to do with corruption? It has everything to do with corruption.Corruption breaks the constitutionally necessary “chain of communication” between the people and their representatives. It derails the essential speech-to-government-action tie. Where enough money calls the tune, the general public will not be heard. Insofar as corruption cuts the link between political thought and political action, a free marketplace of political ideas loses its point. That is one reason why the Court has stressed the constitutional importance of Congress’ concern that a few large donations not drown out the voices of the many. That is also why the Court …read more


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