Citizens United: Massive political campaign donations during the Roman Republic are a cautionary tale for the corrupt influence of money in politics today. – Slate Magazine
Two years after the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United, which allowed unlimited corporate and union money into American politics, there is one line that continues to echo: “The appearance of influence or access … will not cause the electorate to lose faith in our democracy.”
That line lasts because it’s a testable prediction. It’s not a question of precedent or constitutional interpretation, but of public opinion—and as such, we all feel competent to judge it. Loss of faith, the Supreme Court allowed, is itself an argument against our increasingly unregulated campaign spending regime.
Of course, democratic faith is a slippery concept. But it is always on display in an election’s aftermath. In the best case, the election’s winners and losers have a shared, if grudging, agreement about the fairness of the process and its outcome. In the worst case, the winner’s legitimacy is just one more “fact” to disagree about.