So, what happened? Members of an activist group called 99Rise disrupted hearings at the U.S. Supreme Court on the fifth anniversary of Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. The Supreme Court, in that case, essentially lifted caps on how much unions and corporations can spend on politics.
The Supreme Court found that placing limits on such spending was a violation of the First Amendment rights of corporations and unions to influence politics. To be clear, the members of 99Rise had no First Amendment right to disrupt the Court and complain about Citizens United so they were escorted out of the building.
At any rate, since the Citizens United decision came out, President Barack Obama has described it as corrosive to American politics and groups like 99Rise have thrown fits about it, too.
But, here’s the thing – campaign finance reform should never be defined as strictly a liberal or conservative issue because it is something that impacts all American citizens regardless of political affiliation. Defining such an important issue as anything but bipartisan is a mistake.
Keep in mind that Citizens United struck down a lot of the limits on campaigns put in place by the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002. That is one also known as the McCain-Feingold Act and was pushed for by Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.)
Remember McCain? That screaming liberal who was the Republican candidate running against Obama in the 2008 presidential election?
Campaign finance reform was important to McCain and Feingold. Similarly, it was important to a lot of Republicans and Democrats who are concerned that the people they put in office are more interested in the special interests that back them than the voters who elected them.
Declaring an issue such as campaign finance reform as one that is liberal, conservative, Democrat, Republican or anything else ignores the fact that it is one that is important to all of us and ultimately ends up limiting support for it.
Campaign finance reform, simply put, needs bipartisan support to get anywhere. It is a very good idea to keep that in mind.
This column was authored by Ethan C. Nobles and originally appeared in the Jan. 27, 2015, edition of the Daily Record in Little Rock.
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