A dangerous decision by an activist court (Rep. Rosa DeLauro)

This undemocratic decision not only overturns a century of precedent on campaign finance law and creates the conditions for a dangerous corporate takeover of our electoral process. It also puts the lie to several convenient shibboleths we tend to hear from members of this Court whenever it suits their purposes.

The claim is often made that certain justices firmly believe in the doctrine of original intent, that that goal of constitutional jurisprudence should be to gauge what the Founders meant in any given clause and interpret the law accordingly.  My problems with this mode of interpretation notwithstanding, it is hard to see any way that our Founders would have countenanced the reasoning here. As Justice Stevens pointed out in his eloquent dissent, Thomas Jefferson wrote in 1816 that he hoped to “crush in its birth the aristocracy of our moneyed corporations which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength and bid defiance to the laws of our country."  How can we reconcile that statement with yesterday’s decision?

The majority’s stance here also proves beyond a shadow of a doubt, and in direct opposition to Chief Justice Roberts’ testimony during his nomination hearings in 2005, that this is an “activist Court” dedicated to the radical rewriting of our laws to suit their conservative leanings, regardless of existing precedent. The majority on the Court was hardly playing the role of “umpires” here – they ignored stare decisis and threw judicial restraint out the window. After this fiasco, the next time I hear a conservative commentator lament the “activist judges” of the Left, I confess I will find it hard to take him or her very seriously.

Well, the majority on the Court may have abdicated their responsibility to precedent, but we in Congress still have a responsibility to the people. I urge Members of both parties who are troubled by this decision, and the corporate influence over our elections it portends, to join together and pursue corrective legislation. With that in mind, I believe we should quickly pass the Fair Elections Now Act, which would create a voluntary public financing system for congressional elections. And I hope we can work on other ways to make sure that the voices of the people always echo more strongly through the halls of Congress than the unfettered dollars of special interests.

The Court may have sided with the corporations and the special interests here. But we in the House should and will always represent those who truly elected us, the American people.

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