Brazil’s Supreme Court ruled in an 8-3 decision on Thursday that corporate contributions can no longer be given to fund political campaigns or parties.


Before the court’s ruling, corporate contributions made up over 90 percent of the funding during Brazil’s recent presidential elections. The case has spent the last two years in court after it was brought to the Supreme Court by Brazil’s bar association in 2013. Why did Brazil’s Supreme Court make this decision?


Supreme Court Justice Rose Weber

Supreme Court Justice Rose Weber (

“The influence of economic power culminates by turning the electoral process into a political game of marked cards, an odious pantomime that turns the voter into a puppet, crumbling in one blow citizenship and democracy,” said Supreme Court Justice Rosa Weber.  


There has been a similar debate going on in the United States with the increased use of super PACs by corporations or individuals to give presidential candidates financial support. According to a New York Times analysis of financial records, Republican presidential candidates have already received a combined $124 million from 56 backers for the 2016 election. Democratic candidates also receive financial backing, but the combined amount given to Republican candidates is almost 12 times as high as the biggest donations handed to Democrats.         


The co-CEO of Renaissance Technologies, Robert Mercer, gave Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz over $11 million in a single donation for the purpose of surpassing the donations given to Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. Tactics like this resemble the “political game” that Justice Weber believed to be problematic for Brazil’s presidential elections. Some believe that if similar measures aren’t passed in the United States, the run for president could turn into a pay-to-win race.


“Some people may join those who have put money into the PACs, but the bottom line is we have to change the system,” said Democratic fund-raiser Sarah Kovner.   


Brazil may have banned campaign financing from corporate backers, but the country’s Congress has passed a measure that would let corporations make limited donations of around $5 million. President Dilma Rousseff will likely veto the measure; however, if this decision is overruled, the Supreme Court will have to once again evaluate the issue.


What effect will this have on politics in Brazil? Should the United States ban corporate political contributions? Leave a comment or talk to me on Twitter @Karbowski_Devon.