The Supreme Court Wednesday issued its ruling in McCutcheon v Federal Election Commission. In a 5-4 decision, the Court, once again, reversed long-standing precedent and declared aggregate limits on campaign contributions in elections to be unconstitutional in violation of the First Amendment.“Four years after the US Supreme Court handed down its controversial Citizens United decision, five justices once again have decided to rule on the side of moneyed interests and against the American people,” Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) said in a statement following the ruling. “As Justice Breyer warned in his dissent, ‘Taken together with Citizens United v Federal Election Comm’n, today’s decision eviscerates our Nation’s campaign finance laws, leaving a remnant incapable of dealing with the grave problems of democratic legitimacy that those laws were intended to resolve.’ I could not agree with him more. “With this latest shock to our electoral system, the divided Roberts court again chose to dismantle campaign finance laws which had protected hardworking Americans for decades. This ruling will empower billionaires to drown out the voices of everyday Americans in all future campaigns, threatening all states, and especially smaller states like Vermont. It is yet another blow to a democracy for all Americans. As Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, I intend to hold a hearing about the impact of these alarming Supreme Court decisions that have eviscerated our campaign finance laws.”Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) also blasted the Supreme Court, saying in a statement: “Freedom of speech, in my view, does not mean the freedom to buy the United States government. “The ruling gives wealthy donors like the billionaires Charles and David Koch more power to influence elections. An earlier ruling in Citizens United v FEC resulted in a record $7 billion being spent in the 2012 election cycle, including at least $400 million by the Koch brothers alone. “What world are the five conservative Supreme Court justices living in? To equate the ability of billionaires to buy elections with ‘freedom of speech’ is totally absurd. The Supreme Court is paving the way toward an oligarchic form of society in which a handful of billionaires like the Koch brothers and Sheldon Adelson will control our political process.” At issue in the latest case was a limit on how much donors may give to all candidates and political organizations during a two-year federal election cycle. The cap now is $123,200. That includes a separate $48,600 limit on contributions to individual candidates during 2013 and 2014. A separate $2,600 limit on how much one individual may give to any specific candidate for Congress in any election is not directly at stake in this case. The latest ruling comes on the heels of a 2010 Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United, which threw out campaign funding laws that limited what individuals and corporations could spend on elections. Since that ruling, campaign spending by Adelson, the Las Vegas casino magnate, the Koch brothers and a handful of other billionaire families has “fundamentally undermined American democracy,” Sanders stated. Sanders has proposed a constitutional amendment to overturn that ruling and make clear preventing quid pro quo corruption is not the only reason we should regulate campaign finance. His amendment and a companion measure in the House by Rep Ted Deutch (D-Fla.) would make it clear that the right to vote and the ability to make campaign contributions and expenditures belong only to real people.The amendment would effectively prevent corporations from bankrolling election campaigns. Congress and states would have specific authority to regulate campaign finances by, for example, limiting donations, requiring disclosure of donors or creating public-financing systems for campaigns.Vermont Secretary of State Jim Condos released this statement: “I find today’s Supreme Court ruling to strike down aggregate campaign contribution limits to be a disheartening blow to those of us who, on the state level, are working hard to keep corruption out of politics and ensure fair and transparent elections. This ruling, along with the 2010 Citizens United decision, clearly illustrates a disturbing trend that allows the wealthiest voters to have the loudest voice. “Justice Clarence Thomas stated that he would have stripped away all contribution limits – this is the absolute wrong attitude for Americaand it is certainly the wrong attitude for Vermont. “This extremely worrying trend in court rulings only strengthens my personal conviction that we can do better when it comes to transparency in campaign finance. If the Supreme Court is determined to strip away Vermont’s ability to limit campaign contributions than I will redouble my own efforts to work with and support the Vermont legislature in making sure that the people ofVermont have the ability to track every penny that enters the political system in this state. “Vermonters, and all Americans, should have the right to know who is influencing or trying to buy elections.” “Furthermore, these court rulings tie the hands of state legislatures when it comes to limiting campaign finance contributions.