*This piece originally appeared on the Campaign Legal Center's blog.
by Tara Malloy, Deputy Executive Director, Campaign Legal Center
In 2016, voters across the political spectrum cast ballots for change—and to protest the rising influence of big money in our politics. But in Judge Neil Gorsuch, President Trump’s nominee to fill the late Justice Scalia’s vacant seat, voters worry they are getting a justice who will simply perpetuate the corrupting influence of money on government. The majority of voters in 2016 said the system was broken—particularly Trump voters, although this sentiment was consistent across all groups. Voters indicated that “can bring change” was the candidate attribute that mattered most to their decision on November 8; in fact, it was the deciding attribute in CNN exit polling. In poll after poll prior to the election, voters also repeatedly identified unchecked political spending as a principal cause of their dissatisfaction.
Citizens United v. FEC, the 2010 decision that overturned the 60-year-old ban on corporate expenditures in elections and reversed decades of standing Supreme Court precedent, is reviled by voters of all stripes. As many as 80 percent of Republicans and 83 percent of Democrats believe Citizens United was wrongly decided and that corporations should not be campaigning for candidates. Campaign finance might be the last overwhelmingly bipartisan issue in these divided times.
This is all a long way of returning to the question: how exactly have we ended up with Trump’s nominee, Judge Gorsuch of the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals? His past decisions confirm he is a friend to big money. He has even hinted that laws that limit direct contributions to candidates—literally, dollars going directly into politicians’ pockets—are constitutionally suspect. It seems all but certain that he would cast another vote to affirm Citizens United.
He is the opposite of protest.