From the very beginning, designers of the U.S. democracy have been concerned about undue influence of the very wealthy. Strategies to regulate the role of money in politics have changed with each new innovation in communication as people try to balance the need to protect the idea of at least a reasonably equitable system of elections (“one person, one vote”) with the importance of freedom of speech.
The purposes of this paper are to review briefly the League of Women Voters (LWV) position on campaign finance, clarify what the Supreme Court decision Citizens’ United actually did, show the impact on elections beginning in 2012 after that decision was made, and then discuss some of the strategies that are being suggested for overturning the Citizens’ United decision and bringing about greater equity in elections without thwarting freedom of speech.
The League Positions
The LWV has been involved in efforts to control the role of money in politics for decades, having taken an official position as early as 1974. Its current position reads as follows:
The League of Women Voters of the United States believes that the methods of financing political campaigns should ensure the public’s right to know, combat corruption and undue influence, enable 2 candidates to compete more equitably for public office and allow maximum citizen participation in the political process.
The League also focuses on two tracks: Incremental reforms where possible in the short run and build support for public financingas the best long term solution
by: By Anne S. Schneider, PhD.