Rabbi Saperstein: "When money takes precedence over policy, passion, and intellect in an election, we fail to address the needs of our communities and our nation."
WASHINGTON, D.C., January 20, 2012 - On the second anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court decision Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission, which allowed corporations and labor unions to spend unlimited sums on independent political expenditures, Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, issued the following statement:
Two years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Citizens United v. FEC overturned 63 years of precedent, allowing corporations and labor unions to spend unlimited sums on independent political expenditures. Today, as the country becomes increasingly absorbed in the first presidential election since the landmark decision, Americans are seeing the real impact of Citizens United, most notably in the creation and proliferation of Super PACs. Overwhelmingly funded by significant corporate money, Super PACs have flooded television and radio airwaves with negative attack ads, wielding a disproportionate influence in the upcoming elections and distracting candidates and voters from discussing substantive issues.
When money takes precedence over policy, passion, and intellect in an election, we fail to address the needs of our communities and our nation. Jewish tradition is emphatic about the conflicts that arise when mixing money and politics. We read in the Torah, "You shall not judge unfairly: you shall know no partiality; you shall not take bribes, for bribes blind the eyes of the discerning and upset the plea of the just" (Deuteronomy 16:19).
On this anniversary of Citizens United, we reaffirm our strong support for federal, local, and state initiatives that minimize the corrosive influence of money in politics. We call on Congress to correct the damage wrought by the decision, specifically by making public funds available to candidates for Congressional office to counteract the increasing influence of corporate money in these elections.