Civil Libertarians Take A Stand for the Right to Be Heard

Civil Libertarians Take A Stand for the Right to Be Heard

Former leaders of the ACLU are breaking with that organization to reject Supreme Court rulings that money equals speech

Six prominent civil liberties experts – all former leaders of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) – broke ranks with the civil liberties group on Friday to challenge  the Supreme Court’s First Amendment jurisprudence on money in politics.

In a letter to members of the U.S. Senate’s Judiciary Committee, the civil libertarians warn that the Supreme Court “has turned the First Amendment on its head by guaranteeing the wealthy an expensive set of stereo speakers and leaving the average citizen with a bad case of laryngitis.” Their letter is a follow-up to a similar letter from 1998.

Although they express no opinion on the wisdom of the proposed Democracy for All constitutional amendment (S.J. Res. 19) now pending on the Senate floor and slated for a procedural vote on Monday night, the letter’s signers express in strong language how it is “no exaggeration to label today’s version of American democracy as ‘one dollar-one vote.’”

The Supreme Court’s misguided decisions in Citizens United and McCutcheon have unleashed a torrent of big money – hundreds of millions of it from undisclosed sources – into our elections.  Last week, the Washington Post reported on the 300 people dumping even more cash directly into campaign coffers than they could have before McCutcheon. One donor who has contributed $177,000 already this cycle, told the newspaper that “when you start contributing to all these guys, they give you access to meet and talk.”

It is incredibly invigorating to have such prominent civil libertarians join this movement, standing with the American people who want their voices heard in the public square without being drowned out by corporations and billionaire spenders.

Read the letter in full here.