Five to Four | Brennan Center for Justice

Super PACs. Dark Money. Multi-million dollar contributions. Unlimited corporate and union spending.

For many Americans these may seem like fundamental, if unfortunate, aspects of American elections. But the truth is that all of these things are very recent phenomena. Only a few years ago, there were no federal super PACs. The term “dark money” — spending by groups that hide the identity of their donors — had not been coined, because it was virtually non-existent. Corporations and unions were strictly limited in how they could spend in federal elections. Super-wealthy individuals could not donate millions to federal candidates and parties in a single election, because there were aggregate limits on contributions.

All of these new developments, and more that most Americans decry, can be directly or indirectly traced to just a few Supreme Court decisions issued in the last decade, each decided by a single vote