In The Houston Chronicle, Sherrilyn Ifill argues that the Supreme Court’s recent ruling in McCutcheon vs. Federal Election Commission, in which the Court gives even greater influence to wealthy donors in elections, cheapens the act of voting. She cites the opening sentence of Chief Justice Roberts’ majority opinion in which he writes:
“There is no right more basic in our democracy than the right to participate in electing our political leaders. Citizens can exercise that right in a variety of ways: They can run for office themselves, vote, urge others to vote for a particular candidate, volunteer to work on a campaign and contribute to a candidate’s campaign. This case is about the last of those options.”
With that opening, a majority of the U.S. Supreme Court repositions voting – the singular, most important expression of civic participation – to just one “option” among a menu of potential means by which one may participate in the electoral process, carrying no more weight than volunteering for a campaign. It was in 1888, however, that the Supreme Court issued its often-quoted statement that “the right to vote …is preservative of all rights.” It is therefore impossible to reconcile that view of voting – as the ultimate marker of citizenship in a participatory democracy – with the position accorded voting in yesterday’s McCutcheon opinion, as one item on a laundry list of “options” for citizen participation.
Click here to read the full article.