Obama Calls SCOTUS Ruling on Campaign Spending ‘Devastating’

By MichaelJames

Jan 23, 2010 6:00am

ABC News’ Sunlen Miller reports:

President Obama used his weekly address to rail against Thursday’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling on corporate spending in political campaigns — calling it a “devastating” and “powerful blow” striking at democracy that he intends to fight against.

“The United States Supreme Court handed a huge victory to the special interests and their lobbyists – and a powerful blow to our efforts to rein in corporate influence,” Obama said. “This ruling strikes at our democracy itself.”

In a 5-4 decision on Thursday, the Supreme Court invalidated decades-old federal legislation restricting corporate spending in political campaigns.

The president said ruling essentially “opens the floodgates” for unlimited amounts of special interest money and gives those special interest lobbyists “new leverage.”

“That means that any public servant who has the courage to stand up to the special interests and stand up for the American people can find himself or herself under assault come election time,” President Obama said. ”Even foreign corporations may now get into the act.”

When the ruling came down, President Obama said, he instructed his administration to get to work immediately with members of Congress to developed a “forceful, bipartisan” response to the decision.

“We have begun that work, and it will be a priority for us until we repair the damage that has been done,” he said. “I can’t think of anything more devastating to the public interest. The last thing we need to do is hand more influence to the lobbyists in Washington, or more power to the special interests to tip the outcome of elections.”

The president said that the ruling will make it more difficult to pass his key agenda items – like health care and energy legislation, because foreign entities would be allowed to affect elections and the insurance industry would have ever more power.

“Teddy Roosevelt fought to limit special interest spending and influence over American political campaigns and warned of the impact of unbridled, corporate spending,” Obama said, pledging to fight. “His message rings as true as ever today, in this age of mass communications, when the decks are too often stacked against ordinary Americans.”

-Sunlen Miller

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