WASHINGTON – By a pair of slim 5-4 decisions, the Supreme Court ruled that the more money an individual has, the more they must be allowed to vote.
First, in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, Chief Justice John Roberts and the conservative block ruled first that there can be no limit to the amount of money an individual can donate to political organizations or to the total amount of money one can contribute to multiple candidates during an election cycle.
Critics of the ruling immediately voiced fears that this would allow wealthy donors to control elections, a point of view rejected by the Court. “Aggregate limits do not further the permissible governmental interest in preventing quid pro quo corruption or its appearance,” wrote Roberts in the opinion.
Then, in Perkins v. Federal Election Commission, the same five justices ruled that Americans have to purchase votes for candidates of their choice at the price of $1 per vote, with no limit placed on the amount of money one can spend in this fashion. The case was brought by billionaire investment capitalist Tom Perkins, who recently said, “[If] You pay a million dollars in taxes, you get a million votes.”
“The Court agrees with the Plaintiff’s argument that money should equal votes,” wrote Justice Antonin Scalia for the majority. “This case builds upon earlier decisions wherein the Court has ruled that money equals free speech. Since every American has a Constitutional right to free speech, it stands to reason that not allowing a citizen to purchase votes would infringe upon his or her free speech.”
Though part of the 5-4 majority in both cases, conservative Justice Clarence Thomas wrote a separate opinion in which he argued that the Court did not go far enough.
“Now that we have shown that money must needs equal votes, I see no reason for the nation to hold costly, time-consuming elections,” he wrote. “It would make much more sense for us simply to make individual legislative and executive offices available to the highest bidder.”