As the government shutdown continues, the Supreme Court began its new term this week and justices heard arguments in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission. The case has been billed as the successor to the court’s Citizens United decision in 2010 that gave corporations, unions and the wealthy the opportunity to pour vast and often anonymous amounts of cash into political campaigns. The new case challenges caps on how much individual donors can give to candidates and political parties and could raise the amount to more than $3.5 million.
This week on Moyers & Company, Bill Moyers talks with Yale Law School election and constitutional law professor Heather Gerken who warns that McCutcheon has the potential to be even worse than Citizens United. Political parties pay attention to the people with money, and as the non-partisan Sunlight Foundation reports, most of the funding for congressional and presidential campaigns comes from the top one percent of the one percent of the rich – “the elite class that serves as gatekeepers of public office in the United States.”
Bill also speaks with historian Joyce Appleby who has a talent for making tales of the past into page-turning books that read like novels. They include Inheriting the Revolution, about the sons and daughters who took their founding fathers’ revolt against the British crown and made America of it; The Relentless Revolution: A History of Capitalism; and her newest – out this weekend – Shores of Knowledge: New World Discoveries and the Scientific Imagination. It’s the story of what sent European explorers to the Americas in pursuit of treasure and knowledge, and how they shaped our modern world. Bill describes it as “a captivating account of curiosity.”