What Did the Supreme Court Expect?

What Did the Supreme Court Expect?

Gilbert N. Kahn is a professor of Political Science at Kean University.

Forty years ago Americans were infuriated by the abuses that were exposed in the Watergate Affair including the amount of unaccountable funds that were being expended for political campaigns. As a result we had campaign finance reform, federal funding of presidential campaigns, and the establishment of the Federal Election Commission with an entire series of reporting systems to monitor campaign spending and expenditures.

Over the years candidates found ways to circumvent the laws and to avoid applying for or availing themselves of federal campaign financing. Then in 2010, along came the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission  ans set the entire so-called reform system on its head. Ruling that the First Amendment did not permit the Government to limit independent spending for political purposes by corporations or labor unions, the court released a system whereby there was vi rtually no-longer any ceiling on campaign financing. The Court decision in a 5-4 vote has had a huge effect, as we are witnessing, on campaign financing. This year’s Republican presidential campaign—the first since the Court’s decision– has demonstrated the clear results.

The amount of money pouring into various campaigns as the Republican primary process winds its way down to the South is reaching epic proportions. The Super PACs for Gingrich and Romney have been accumulating donations in the millions much of it coming from Jewish backers around the country. As Romney did so successfully in Iowa where his enormous media blitz probably knocked Gingrich out of the number two position in the caucus, so now comes the attack movie from the Gingrich camp.  This movie, created by Speaker Gingrich’s Super PAC Winning Our Future, is determined to destroy Romney’s credibility as a viable businessman and potential president.

It seems like the sky is the limit and all President Obama has had to do so far is collect the money and not even spend it yet. If this is the level of spending in the primaries, imagine what kind of money will be spent by both sides in the general election.

Sure it is democratic, but have we no shame?

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