It was career politicians against the people.
The case was U.S. Term Limits v. Thornton . Back in 1995 in a controversial 5 to 4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the 23 state laws limiting congressional terms.
Most of these laws did not actually stop incumbents from being reelected. Instead they limited incumbents from having their names on the ballot. A number of people have been elected to Congress through write-in campaigns.
But the High Court said the effect of the laws would be to “hobble” powerful incumbents, reducing their chances of winning. That could not be allowed.
Now the Court’s decision in the term limits case is being raised again, this time in a case where challengers are being hobbled. The Missouri Legislature passed restrictive limits on campaign contributions. The effect of these limits, whether intended or not, is to make it much harder for challengers to raise the funding necessary to take on powerful incumbents.
A group called Shrink Missouri Government sued to overturn the law. They say it violates the First Amendment rights of candidates and voters. They argue that contribution limits don’t reduce corruption. Instead, they tilt the field against challengers.
Many national advocacy groups, including U.S. Term Limits, have weighed in to support ending these restrictions that hinder challengers, and thus give us less competitive elections. The Court should not allow restrictions that hurt challengers.
We need more democracy, not less. Challengers need a fighting chance.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.