Thursday, June 16, 2005

Vermont Takes On The Status Quo - Money's Hold On Government Challenged

As John Zicconi reports in the Barre-Montpelier Times Argus, the state of Vermont has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review its mandatory spending limits for state political races. Vermont's spending limits are a direct and much needed challenge to the 1976 Supreme Court decision Buckley v. Valeo, a legal fossil left over from a time before the effects of money on our political system and elections were fully understood.

The Vermont Public Interest Group, represented by the National Voting Rights Institute, joined Vermont in defending the limits.

Several amicus briefs were submitted urging the Court to hear the case, including one by TheRestofUs.org and other citizen groups (including US PIRG, Common Cause, the League of Women Voters, Demos, Public Campaign, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, and ReclaimDemocracy.org), one by thirteen attorneys general submitted on behalf of their states, one by a bipartisan group of Senators, and others.

Check out our Buck Buckley page for more on the case, its background, and for copies of the various amicus briefs.

As part of the same campaign finance law, Vermont instituted some of the lowest limits on contributions in the country ($400 per election cycle for statewide races, $300 for senate races, and $200 for house races), which along with its spending limits make it one of the best states in the country for ensuring that the quality of a citizen's representation in government does not depend on the quantity of cash in their bank accounts.

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