President Barack Obama issued a strong statement Wednesday in opposition to the Supreme Court's 2010 Citizen's United decision, a ruling he believes "has caused real harm to our democracy."
Wednesday marked the fifth anniversary of the Supreme Court's 5-4 Citizens United decision, which allowed corporations and unions to give and spend unlimited sums of money on independent political activity. Demonstrators interrupted Chief Justice John Roberts at the Supreme Court Wednesday morning, shouting things like "money is not speech," and "one person, one vote," according to the Washington Post.
The president released a statement condemning the court's decision later that afternoon:
Our democracy works best when everyone’s voice is heard, and no one’s voice is drowned out. But five years ago, a Supreme Court ruling allowed big companies – including foreign corporations – to spend unlimited amounts of money to influence our elections. The Citizens United decision was wrong, and it has caused real harm to our democracy. With each new campaign season, this dark money floods our airwaves with more and more political ads that pull our politics into the gutter. It’s time to reverse this trend. Rather than bolster the power of lobbyists and special interests, Washington should lift up the voices of ordinary Americans and protect their democratic right to determine the direction of the country that we love.
Obama only vaguely touched on campaign finance and the Citizens United decision in his State of the Union address on Tuesday, referencing "dark money," or campaign funds that don't have to be disclosed to voters.
“A better politics is one where we spend less time drowning in dark money for ads that pull us into the gutter, and spend more time lifting young people up, with a sense of purpose and possibility, and asking them to join in the great mission of building America,” Obama said.
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has also expressed regret over the court's 2010 decision, saying in September that it is the one decision she would overrule if she could.
"I think the notion that we have all the democracy that money can buy strays so far from what our democracy is supposed to be," she told The New Republic.