Big campaign finance decision out of the nation's highest court.
CHRIS JANSING (4/2/2014): Breaking news from the Supreme Court. Major campaign contribution case.
Who's stopping you? I mean, it's year long, right? Oh wait a minute, you don't mean "support" like support (puts thumbs up), you mean "support" like support (rubs fingers together).
JAN CRAWFORD, CBS (10/8/2013): The case was brought by Alabama businessman Shaun McCutcheon, who argues he should be able to support as many candidates as he wants in an election cycle.
SHAUN McCUTCHEON (10/8/2013): I think this is a fundamental free speech issue about your right to spend your money on as many candidates as you choose.
Oh right, it's the whole "money = speech" as a way to further amplify big donors' influence on politics. You know, because for some reason, money equaling money wasn't getting it done.
PETE WILLIAMS (4/2/2014): The Court left intact how much any person can give to a single federal candidate, but it did away with the limit on how much anybody can give to all candidates put together.
(nervous audience laughter)
Victory! Finally, we're rid of the corrosive influence of not enough money in politics.
JEFFREY TOOBIN (4/2/2014): Basically, it gives people who have a lot of money at their disposal the chance to spread their influence even more widely. If you have a million dollars now, think how many chunks of $5,200 that makes. It's a lot. You could write a lot of checks.
Yep! Lots and lots of $5,200 checks. The last great hope of preserving our democracy from the corrupting influence of money is carpal tunnel syndrome.
(audience laughter and applause)
All right, what rationale did the Court use to justify this 5-4 split decision? Let's hear some dissent from liberal justice Kagan.
JUSTICE ELENA KAGAN (10/8/2013): If you take off the aggregate limits, people will be allowed, if you put together the national committees and all the state committees and all the candidates in the House and the Senate, it comes to over $3.5 million dollars.
I'm sorry, I should explain something very quickly, the visual. The Supreme Court doesn't allow cameras into the Supreme Court, I assume to protect the judges' privacy from those revenge uprobe porn sites.
(audience groans in disgust)
But what you saw there, we had our Daily Show court sketch artist at the Court to capture the argument. So that's where the drawings come from. OK, here's the conservative rebuttal, first Antonin Scalia speaks from the bench in his hot tub full of money. Go.
JUSTICE ANTONIN SCALIA (10/8/2013): Just to put that in perspective, how much money is spent by political parties and PACs in all elections throughout the country? ... When you add all that up, I don't think $3.5 million is a heck of a lot of money.
(disgusted audience response)
Antonin Scalia, the strict constructionist justice, his argument seems to be, OK sure, $3.5 million dollars sounds like a donor is making it rain. Until you compare that to the monsoon season of money that we unleashed in our previous Citizens United decision allowing corporations and unions to donate to super PACs. I believe the limit there was "whatever the fuck they want". (audience laughter)
Now, you may think even though there are billions of dollars in politics, surely millions can still have some corrupting effect, no? And aren't we, by attempting to limit contributions, just trying to limit the corrupting influence of money? Or at least the appearance of the corrupting influence of money? You shouldn't have said that, cuz it turns out, you're fucking wrong! Cuz according to this Supreme Court, the only kind of corruption that matters is the narrowest possible Thomas Nast-like monocle top-hatted man hands a bag labeled "Money for Bribe" to a literal fat cat, while the American public stands behind them wearing a barrel.
Known as quid pro quo corruption.
JUSTICE SAMUEL ALITO (10/8/2013): Unless the money is transferred to — you have to get it from the person who wants to corrupt to the person who is going to be corrupted. And unless the money can make it from A to B, I don't see where the quid pro quo argument is.
Is he fucking that bag? (audience laughter) No wonder they don't want cameras in the courtroom!
So let me get this straight, Justice Alito doesn't see how money corrupts politics unless you can draw a straight line from "I am giving you this money to do this thing for me". Well, let's see if we can find Justice Alito a broader non-literal quid pro quo. Like a historical example of the corrupting influence of money in politics. What if we reached back in history, to like, this weekend?
JAN CRAWFORD, CBS (3/27/2014): The Republican Governors are heading west to Las Vegas. ... They're speaking at the Spring Meeting of the Republican Jewish Coalition, but more important, their private talks with one man — Republican super-donor Sheldon Adelson.
I would respectfully like to approach the bench, and remind the Court that when the media refers to Sheldon Adelson as a super-donor, they're not talking sperm. (grossed out audience laughter) I hope! (audience laughter)
So a pack of Republican presidential hopefuls just flew all the way to Las Vegas just to kiss the scooter-riding ass of one 80-year-old billionaire. Doesn't prove anything though, right? I mean, people on Fear Factor speed-eat a plate of bull testicles for $50,000 dollars. It doesn't mean the two are connected. It doesn't mean that money changes their behavior.
Still don't think money has a general corrupting influence on politics? Cuz I can tell you this. My family is full of 80-year-old Jews who would very much like to tell politicians what words they can and cannot use to describe Israel. But as of this taping, no presidential hopefuls have flown to their house to solicit that opinion. Obviously, we tape at 6, the show's on at 11, things could change between that time. There may be a presidential hopefuls conference at my Aunt Doris's house right now. If so, obviously Monday's show will be a full apology.
CHRIS MATTHEWS: Later, according to NBC News, Christie did apologize to Adelson.
JOE SCARBOROUGH: He ended up having to apologize for referring to the West Bank as "occupied territories".
In who's delusional mind is democracy made better by letting wealthier people control more of it?
SEN. MITCH McCONNELL, R-KY (4/2/2014): I can understand why the political left doesn't like decisions like Citizens United and McCutcheon, because they expand the playing field. They enable more citizens to be involved, more citizens to contribute to candidates and causes that they believe in. That's good for America.
BULLSHIT!! (audience cheering and applause)
I can't even do the turtle voice! How the fuck does this decision enable more citizens to contribute? According to the AP, in 2012, 646 individuals bumped up against the campaign contribution limit that this case just struck down. McCutcheon doesn't get more people involved. It lets those 646 individuals get themselves more involved.
You know, how did the Supreme Court handle voter ID laws?
PETE WILLIAMS (4/28/2008): The Supreme Court said that states can require a voter ID at the polls to prevent voter fraud.
So the Court conveniently ignores the real effects of the donor-lobbyist-industrial complex under the guise of making our democracy more inclusive; yet they're perfectly OK with voter ID laws which, under the guise of protecting us from mostly non-existent in-person voter fraud, actually makes our democracy less inclusive.
Corruption that actually happens? "I don't see it!"
Voter fraud that doesn't happen?
Justice is blind, but in only one eye!
So money doesn't corrupt our system. Last year they struck down parts of the Voting Rights Act. Racism doesn't apparently corrupt our system anymore, because these justices struck down some of the most important parts of the Voting Rights Act. So what in the view of these justices has a corrupting influence on our democratic process?
MARIA BARTIROMO: Do you think that the rules will change in allowing television cameras in the Court?
JUSTICE ANTONIN SCALIA: Not a chance. Because we don't want to become entertainment. I think it's... there's something sick about making entertainment out of real people's legal problems.
CHIEF JUSTICE JOHN ROBERTS (7/13/2006): There's a concern about the impact of television on the functioning of the institution. Both the civil trial and the Supreme Court argument. All of the justices view themselves as trustees of an extremely valuable institution.
Televised Supreme Court hearings! Apparently the one thing so corrosive to the process that it can never be allowed to exert its unholy influence upon our sacred democratic institutions is transparency. We'll be right back.