In a live Web event beginning at noon ET sponsored by the Constitutional Accountability Center, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Professor Lawrence Lessig, director of Harvard’s Edmond J. Safra Foundation Center for Ethics, discuss why they believe the founding fathers would disagree with the way in which the Supreme Court interpreted the term “corruption” in its ruling on Citizens United v. FEC, the decision that allowed outside groups like super PACs to pour unlimited money into the political process.
A new case before the Court this term, McCutcheon v. FEC, could mean the repeal of limits on the amount individuals can give to candidates — basically, Citizens United 2.0.
“The Framers had a very specific conception of the term ‘corruption’ in mind, one at odds with McCutcheon’s more modern understanding of that term,” Lessig wrote in an amicus brief for the case. “For the Framers, ‘corruption’ predicated of institutions as well as individuals, and when predicated of institutions, was often constituted by an ‘improper dependence.’
“…The aggregate limits, which permit an individual to make a total of $123,200 in contributions in each two-year election cycle ($48,600 to candidates and $74,600 to political parties and non-party political committees), play a necessary role in securing a government free from corrupting dependence on high-dollar donors. By preventing massive hard money contributions to candidates and their political parties, the aggregate limits aim to prevent the very sort of improper dependence on outside forces that the Framers wrote the Constitution to check.”