, Salem, MA


April 30, 2014

Letter: Money silences the people's voice

To the editor:

Two very concerning events in the last month have led us to write to voice deep concern about our democracy:

1. The McCutcheon Supreme Court decision that allows ever-greater monetary donations by wealthy individuals to political campaigns further increasing the corrupting influence of money allowed by the Citizens United decision.

2. The first-ever scientific study that analyzes whether the U.S. is a democracy, rather than an oligarchy, found the majority of the American public has a “minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy” compared to the wealthy. The study was conducted by Princeton and Northwestern universities.

Clearly, the people no longer have a democracy and we need to take steps to reclaim it or it will further disintegrate. For more than a century, campaign finance reform has been a bipartisan effort. Concern over corruption and fairness at the state and federal levels has resulted in historic legislation to attain such worthy goals. All this effort, from Theodore Roosevelt to the bipartisan McCain-Feingold law of 2002, was wiped out in the Citizens United Supreme Court decision of 2010. This has resulted in unimaginably expensive campaigns, as well as deep concern about the corrupting influence of money from undisclosed sources.

Both parties are giving lip service to campaign finance reform. However, Citizens United and McCutcheon are powerful statements of intent from the Roberts Supreme Court. Despite the national uproar caused by Citizens United, the court refused to reverse its disastrous course in the McCutcheon case.

North Shore Move to Amend, an affiliate of the national Move to Amend effort therefore asks both parties to re-consider the wisdom of legislating campaign finance reform when the Roberts Court has made it abundantly clear it will throw it out. This leaves us with no recourse but to reverse these decisions by a constitutional amendment.

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