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Resolution on Campaign Finance Reform in the United States

Whereas Judaism believes in the equality of all human beings regardless of race, creed or financial position;

Whereas Deuteronomy 16 commands, “You shall not judge unfairly: you shall know no partiality; you shall not take gifts, for gifts blind the eyes of the discerning and upset the plea of the just”;

Whereas the Talmud Bavli in Tractate Ketubot (105b) notes, “As soon as a man receives a gift from another he becomes so well disposed towards him that he becomes like his own person, and no man sees himself in the wrong”;

Whereas as Jews, we believe that all Americans must have equal access to the voting process which is so central to our democracy, in accordance with the words of Leviticus 19:15, “You shall not render an unfair decision”;

Whereas the January 2010 Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United v. FEC overturned 63 years of precedent, allowing corporations and labor unions to spend unlimited sums on independent political expenditures;

Whereas wealthy individuals and corporations can now circumvent campaign finance laws by pouring unlimited funds into “Super PACs” that have coarsened political discourse and have made candidates even more beholden to the wealthy few and their interests;

Whereas in a modern democracy, it is necessary for elected officials to be accountable to all citizens, not just wealthy and powerful moneyed interests;

Whereas in a time of economic stress in our nation and around the world the billions of dollars spent on American elections are unseemly and immoral in the face of increased poverty, hunger, unemployment and lack of access to health care, among the many pressing issues in our society requiring greater resources; and

Whereas the Rabbinical Assembly as far back as 1997 has called for campaign finance reform.

Therefore be it resolved that the Rabbinical Assembly call upon the United States Congress, the U.S. Administration and state and local governments nationwide to reform current campaign financing regulations to ensure greater accountability of elected officials to the American public;

Be it further resolved that the Rabbinical Assembly reiterate its prior support of free media access including television and radio time for political candidates during an election season;

  • That such free television and radio time be legislated by Congress in coordination with the television and radio industries;
  • That candidates be given access to free television and radio time in exchange for accepting limits on the amount of time candidates can purchase in any media market; and

Be it further resolved that the membership of the Rabbinical Assembly urge Congress to set stricter limits on the amount of money that can be raised by candidates, political parties and PACs in any given election cycle.

Passed by the Rabbinical Assembly Plenum, May, 2012