The Washington Post has a riveting article today on the death of legislative reform. The House and Senate haven’t even tried to reconcile the sham lobbying “reform” bill approved by both chambers this Spring. Rampant corruption seems to have had little effect on the behavior in Washington.
“There’s a belief among my colleagues that our constituents are not concerned,” said John McCain.
Apparently, neither is the Supreme Court. Today the nation’s highest court overturned a Vermont law mandating strict caps on the amount of money politicians can spend and raise during a campaign. The Vermont law–along with clean money initiatives in Arizona and Maine–could have been a model for breaking the hold of money on politics.
But by a verdict of 6-3, the Supreme Court further set back the cause of reform.
“The findings made by the Vermont legislature on the pernicious effect of the nonstop pursuit of money are significant,” Justice David Souter wrote in a dissenting opinion.
“I am firmly persuaded that the Framers would have been appalled by the impact of modern fundraising practices on the ability of elected officials to perform their public responsibilities,” added Justice John Paul Stevens, concurring with Souter.
Souter and Stevens rightly noted that what ails our contemporary politics can be summed up in one word: money. The solution is publicly financed elections, which 74 percent of voters support, according a new poll released by Public Campaign.
According to Lake Research Partners and Bellwether Research, “82 percent of voters believe it is likely, as a result of publicly financed elections, that candidates will win on their ideas, not because of the money they raise, and 81% believe it is likely politicians will be more accountable to voters instead of large contributors.”
Today, the will of the people was of little concern to the Roberts court.