“Bernie Sanders’s Legacy? The Left May No Longer Need the Rich”

NYT’sThe UpShot:

Mr. Sanders’s weakness among affluent Democrats and his strength among working-class Democrats might seem unsurprising, given his class-focused message. Mr. Sanders himself anticipated it in an interview with The Upshot in July.

But in broader historical terms, it might be something of a turning point in Democratic politics: the moment when the party’s left no longer needs an alliance with wealthy liberals to compete in national elections.


“No Trump Effect, Yet, on Supreme Court Stalemate”


Those pushing the stalled nomination of Judge Merrick B. Garland to the Supreme Court had hoped that Donald J. Trump’s triumph in the Republican presidential primary would lead to a breakthrough with Senate Republicans who might suddenly see Judge Garland as an acceptable choice, rather than wait for Mr. Trump to lose and allow either Hillary Clinton or Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont to make the pick.

Some conservatives, including the editors of the website RedState, agreed, urging Senate Republicans to act “before it was too late” and not allow President Obama to withdraw Judge Garland’s nomination.

But it was not to be — at least not yet.


“Former Ron Paul aide, Trump super PAC chief convicted in campaign finance trial”


A former aide to Ron Paul and current strategist for a pro-Donald Trump super PAC was convicted Thursday of falsifying campaign records in a 2012 scheme to pay for a presidential endorsement.

A federal jury in Iowa found Jesse Benton guilty on all counts, which included conspiracy and false records charges. Benton was convicted along with John Tate and Dimitrios Kesari, also former Paul aides.
Benton is chief strategist of the Great America PAC, the primary PAC backing Trump’s presidential bid.

“Big Money Pours Millions into Ballot Initiative Battles”

Bloomberg BNA:

Political groups have already raised more than $125 million so far to get issues directly before voters, a Bloomberg analysis of state campaign finance data shows. That’s a 74 percent increase from what was raised for initiatives at the same point in the 2014 election cycle.
Ballot measures allow groups to get a popular vote on specific policy measures rather than go through the arduous process of lobbying state legislators to take action, which often involves some form of compromise with members of the opposing party.

“Will Donald Trump Get Back The $38 Million He Lent His Campaign?”

Peter Overby for NPR:

Donald Trump likes to say he is self-funding his campaign. That isn’t entirely true. He has actually lent his campaign about three-quarters of the $49 million or so that he has spent so far.

That means the campaign can pay him back if it has the money. But there’s a deadline. Trump has 11 weeks to repay himself — exactly at the moment when he needs to pivot and start raising cash for the general election campaign.


“Election Commission Advisory Board Disagrees With Director Over Citizenship Rule”

Pam Fessler for NPR:

It looks like more bad news for the new executive director of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission. Brian Newby is already being sued by the League of Women Voters for his decision earlier this year to allow Kansas and two other states to require residents to show proof of citizenship when they register to vote using a federal form. The move effectively reversed a long-standing EAC policy.

Now, the EAC’s advisory board — composed of election officials from around the country — has approved a resolution saying that such changes should be made by the commissioners themselves. The resolution, passed by a 13-7 vote during a two-day board meeting in Chicago, is only advisory, but clearly shows dissatisfaction with Newby’s actions.

Commission Chairman Thomas Hicks says it’s now up to the commission to take the recommendation “under advisement” and decide what to d


“Trump rallies in Charleston, tells people not to vote”


Donald Trump loves coal miners and thinks you should not vote in Tuesday’s elections, he told a crowd of thousands at the Charleston Civic Center Thursday also hitting all the themes of his campaign — building a wall between the United States and Mexico, renegotiating trade deals and his success in the polls and in prior primaries.

Twice during his 45-minute speech, Trump urged the audience not to vote in next week’s primary elections, instead telling them to “save your vote” for the fall.

“You don’t have to vote anymore, save your vote for the general election, forget this one, the primary’s done,” said Trump, who essentially clinched the Republican nomination this week.

He circled back to his advice 20 minutes later: “Now I can tell you, stay home but get twice as many people in November.”

Tuesday’s election will decide a seat on the state Supreme Court, giving the winner a seat on the bench for the next 12 years.


“Sheldon Adelson Says He Will Support Donald Trump”


The casino magnate Sheldon G. Adelson said on Thursday night that he would support Donald J. Trump now that he has become the Republican Party’s presumptive nominee.

“Yes, I’m a Republican, he’s a Republican,” Mr. Adelson said in a brief interview. “He’s our nominee. Whoever the nominee would turn out to be, any one of the 17 — he was one of the 17. He won fair and square.”


After Ken Vogel Story, Politifact Now Rates as Half-True George Clooney Statement About Clinton Fundraising


Editor’s note, May 4, 2016: We originally published this item on April 17 and rated it Mostly True. Since then, readers have contacted us to consider other evidence about the Democratic Party’s fundraising processes, especially state parties sending money back to the Democratic National Committee. We have updated and rerated this fact-check based on new information, changing the rating from Mostly True to Half True…

Federal Election Commission records show that in most cases, the money given to the state parties has been immediately redirected to the DNC. The money isn’t staying with the states at all.

On May 2, Politico published a story reporting that 88 percent of the state money was immediately passed along to the DNC. In some cases, the state parties didn’t even know the money had gone in and out of their accounts until after the fact.

The Hillary Victory Fund sent $214,100 to Minnesota, for example, and that state party didn’t keep a dime. It was routed to the DNC, which otherwise wouldn’t have been able to accept the money “since it came from donors who had mostly had already maxed out to the national party committee,” Politico reported.

We contacted the DNC and the Clinton campaign to try to understand what was compelling the states to immediately send funds back to the DNC. We couldn’t get straight answers.


“The U.S. political system is flawed but not corrupt”

Stephen Medvic at WaPo’s In Theory:

Though our political system is flawed and perhaps even “rigged” in certain important ways, there is very little political corruption in the United States. This claim is typically met with disbelief. How can anyone argue that our political process is not corrupted by the vast amounts of money spent on campaigns and the countless hours elected officials and their challengers spend raising that money?

MORE in this series:

Trevor Burrus: When it comes to politics, corruption is subtler than you think

Jacob Rowbottom: The U.S. and Britain see corruption very differently. Here’s why.

Zephyr Teachout: How the Supreme Court gets corruption totally wrong


“Chemerinsky: Should SCOTUS have turned down these election law cases?”

Erwin Chemerinsky in the ABA Journal:

At the beginning of American history, the Supreme Court was required to hear every case brought to it. Over time, Congress modified these statutes, most recently in 1988, so that today the court has mandatory appellate jurisdiction only when Congress requires that a case be heard by a three judge federal district court. The Voting Rights Act requires this for challenges to the drawing of election districts. But mandatory Supreme Court jurisdiction makes no more sense here than in any other area. Congress could change this to have appeals in voting cases, like in all other matters, go first to a United States Court of Appeals and then to the Supreme Court.


“Voter ID Bill That Could Disenfranchise 220,000 Sits On Missouri Governor’s Desk”

Alice Ollstein for Think Progress:

Republicans in Missouri have been trying to pass a voter ID bill for more than a decade, and they may soon claim victory.

This week, a supermajority of lawmakers sent a bill to the desk of Gov. Jay Nixon (D). Even if the governor vetoes, as he did to a similar one in 2011, lawmakers may have the votes to override it.

Democrats in the state Senate staged an all-night filibuster last week to stop the ID bill, but backed down after striking a compromise deal with Republicans.

The deal involves amendments to the bill that progressive lawmakers say will “ensure no voter is denied his or her Constitutional right to vote.” For instance, the state would be required to provide free photo IDs and any underlying documents necessary to obtain them, such as birth certificates and Social Security cards. Additionally, voters who are unable to get the required ID for whatever reason would be able to sign a legally-binding affidavit promising they are who they say they are, and could then vote with regular ballots.


“The Long Shadow of Bush v. Gore: Judicial Partisanship in Election Cases”

Michael Kang and Joanna Shepherd have posted this draft on SSRN (forthcoming, Stanford Law Review). Here is the abstract:

Bush v. Gore decided the 2000 presidential election and is still the most dramatic election case of our lifetime, but cases like it are decided every year at the state level. American law leaves it to ordinary common-law courts to regularly decide questions of election rules and administration that effectively decide electoral outcomes hanging immediately in the balance. Election cases like Bush v. Gore embody a fundamental worry with judicial determination of these cases: outcome-driven, partisan judicial decisionmaking. This Article investigates whether judges decide cases, particularly political sensitive ones, based on their partisan loyalties. It presents a novel method to isolate the raw partisan motivations of judges and identifies their partisan loyalty, as opposed to their ideology, by studying decisions in a special category of cases almost entirely about partisan loyalty — candidate-litigated election disputes. The Article finds that Republican judges display greater partisan loyalty than Democratic judges in election cases where ideology is not a significant consideration. This result is not a function of selection methods, with both elected and appointed judges behaving similarly, but it is partially a function of party campaign finance for elected Republican judges, with party loyalty increasing with party money received. However, the effect of party campaign finance disappears for more visible election cases and largely disappears for retiring judges in their final term. What is more, partisan loyalty is reduced when state supreme court elections have recently featured more campaign attack advertising. These findings give reason to re-think judicial resolution of election disputes that require impartial, nonpartisan settlement and offer new insight into judicial partisanship as a more general matter.

They have also written a Michigan Law Review book review of Melinda Gann Hall’s Attacking Judges: How Campaign Advertising Influences State Supreme Court Elections.


“Often-secret donors spend big to push elected officials’ pet projects”

Must-read from Fredreka Schouten and Mary Troyan USA Today:

The Alabama political scandal that has cost the state’s governor his marriage and now threatens his job has thrust politicians’ growing use of often-secretly funded nonprofits into the spotlight.

Gov. Robert Bentley’s former aides created the tax-exempt Alabama Council for Excellent Government last year to promote the governor’s agenda, but some of its funds went to pay the governor’s senior political adviser, exposed in recent weeks as his extramarital love interest. And like any other “social-welfare” group created under the 501(c)(4) section of the tax code, it does not have to disclose its donors.

Nonprofit groups have become a fixture in federal politics, allowing secret donors to pump unlimited sums into advertising and get-out-the-vote efforts in elections. But their use has spread rapidly to statehouses from Lansing, Mich., to Nashville, Tenn., and city halls from New York to Los Angeles, as another source of cash that elected officials of both parties can tap to help shape public policy.



“Justice Department Wants Suit Alleging Georgia Illegally Purges Voters”

Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

The U.S. Justice Department has asked a federal judge to deny a request to dismiss a lawsuit accusing Georgia of illegally bumping voters off the state’s rollsahead of the 2016 presidential election.

In a court filing, U.S. Attorney John Horn and members of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division indicated concerns with the state’s policy toward kicking voters off the rolls due to inactivity. The filing came in response to a request by Georgia officials to dismiss the suit after it was filed in February.


“Voter ID laws are reaction to nonexistent problem”

Greg Smith in The Tennessean:

Von Spakovsky and others are persuading the public, as well as state legislatures and courts, that illegal immigrants, unscrupulous voter registration activists and vote buyers are stealing elections. Claims of voter malfeasance have “justified” tighter voting restrictions. Yet, these claims have been found repeatedly and empirically to be “myths” (and I can cite 28 scholarly or empirical sources). The evidence is astonishing.

In a 2015 personal communication, von Spakovsky expressed clearly that not even a single, empirical or peer-reviewed research report supporting his viewpoints existed, nor had even one university press published a book. It appears self-incriminating that he offers no specific rebuttal to the endless empirical evidence specifically against his unsupported claims. Additionally, I could find nothing to indicate that neither von Spakovsky — nor anyone on his behalf or support from him of anyone else making similar claims — has attempted to argue the merits of his claims against his critics. The only exception is when he insisted nebulously that he never has “been credibly rebutted nor shown to be incorrect.”


“The Distillery: Resurrecting Political Equality”

Johanna Kalb at the Brennan Center:

In May, the University of Pennsylvania Law Review Online will publish a series of essays examining the role that political equality could play in the Supreme Court’s campaign finance jurisprudence.  The authors in this collection are helping to relaunch a conversation that has been stagnant for forty years.

Today’s constitutional framework for money in politics dates back to the Supreme Court’s decision in Buckley v. Valeo.  The Buckley Court was asked to evaluate the constitutionality of the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1974, an extensive package of reforms including limits on contributions and independent spending, disclosure requirements for political spending, and the creation of a system of public funding for presidential campaigns.  Defenders of the law argued that regulating political spending was necessary to prevent corruption and promote voter confidence, as well as to equalize the ability of interested citizens to influence electoral choices and run for office.  The Buckley Court agreed that preventing corruption or its appearance was a compelling government interest, which justified an incursion on First Amendment rights.  However, the Court flatly rejected any government interest in promoting political equality, stating that “the concept that government may restrict the speech of some elements of our society in order to enhance the relative voice of others is wholly foreign to the First Amendment. . . .”

Buckley’s rejection of the equality interest was immediately and widely criticized.  As time passed, however, attention in political equality arguments quite understandably receded.  Instead reformers (and scholars) focused their energies on arguing for a broad understanding of the government’s interest in preventing corruption.  In the 1990s and early 2000s, this seemed like a winning strategy.  The Court upheld a variety of contribution limits, oftendescribing the government’s corruption interest broadly in terms of the dangers that wealth could pose to the integrity of the democratic process.  Then Roberts and Alito replaced O’Connor and Rehnquist, and the newly constituted Court began a concerted effort to dismantle the system of campaign finance regulation by narrowing the government’s interest in preventing corruption to the quid pro quo exchange of cash for votes.

The Roberts Court’s aggressive attack on campaign finance regulation and the recent death of Justice Scalia have created an opening for rethinking the constitutional framework for money in politics.  Political equality is back on the table, bolstered in part by success of the Sanders presidential campaign and its focus on the relationship between economic and political inequality in America.  More than enthusiasm is needed, however, to move equality theory from the sidelines to the center of the constitutional doctrine.  As Rick Hasen has been saying for years (and most recently in his book, Plutocrats United), equality theory is replete with questions that have gone mostly unaddressed by scholars of campaign finance law.  We need to understand which form(s) of political equality justify regulation; equality of “inputs” into the political process – or equality of the “outputs” that process creates?  We need to have some way of thinking about how much equality is enough, in order to guide the Court in balancing the equality and liberty concerns raised by campaign finance regulation.  And, we need to have some idea of how the corporate media operates in this framework.

These kinds of questions (and others) will need to be persuasively answered if political equality is to regain a place in the Court’s campaign finance jurisprudence. The forthcoming collection in the University of Pennsylvania Law Review Online will open a dialogue about the hard questions of equality theory; the contributions include:

  • First Amendment Freeze Play: Bennett’s Strategy for Entrenching Inequality, in which Frank Pasquale looks at the impact on equality theory of the Roberts Court’s decision in Arizona v. Bennett;
  • A Theory That Fits the Facts, in which Daniel Tokaji and Renata Strause consider ways to build an empirical record that would support regulation to promote equality, with a focus on developing a greater understanding of how lobbying intersects with campaign funding;
  • The Federalism Implications of Campaign Finance Regulation, in which Franita Tolson,  explores arguments based on the Guarantee Clause and the Tenth Amendment for giving the states more leeway to adopt campaign regulations to promote political equality; and
  • Campaign Finance and the Media Exemption Problem, in which Sonja West argues that exempting media corporations from generally applicable limits on political spending is both constitutionally justified and practically possible.

These essays are still only a beginning.  While the last forty years have given scholars of election law every reason to succumb to “corruption temptation,” changes both on the ground and in the Court have created a rare moment in which a fundamental rethinking of the rules of our democracy is possible. Now we need to do the work to make it happen.


“Judge challenges attorneys as campaign finance trial wraps up”

Alaska Dispatch News:

A weeklong trial in a lawsuit challenging the state’s campaign contribution limits came to a close Tuesday, with U.S. District Judge Timothy Burgess asking probing questions of attorneys defending the state’s limits on nonresident contributions and expressing some concern limits set at least a decade ago haven’t risen with inflation.

Kevin Clarkson, attorney for the plaintiffs who say their free-speech rights are hurt by the donation caps, said in his closing arguments the state never overcame a fundamental hurdle, proving the $500 maximum a person can give to a candidate per year is the proper amount to prevent corruption or the appearance of corruption, as the law intends.

Proving why that number is correct is the state’s “first step,” but the state never met that obligation, he assert


“Wichita man pleads guilty in Kansas voter fraud case”

Wichita Eagle:

The Wichita man accused of voting twice in the 2012 and 2014 elections pleaded guilty Wednesday to three misdemeanors.

Ron Weems, 77, won’t face jail time or probation, his attorney Jim McIntyre said, but agreed to pay a $5,500 fine to resolve the case. Weems, who was registered to vote in both Wichita and Teller County, Colo., according to records, is among the first Kansans prosecuted by Secretary of State Kris Kobach’s office after the Legislature last July gave it the authority to criminally prosecute alleged election crimes.

The case is the fourth prosecuted by Kobach’s office that has resulted in convictions.


“The South Florida voter-fraud case that went nowhere”

Miami Herald:

It seemed like the rare, slam-dunk case of voter fraud.

Two men stood accused of unlawfully handling four other people’s mail-in ballots in the 2013 Homestead mayoral election, filling at least one of them for precisely the candidatesthe voter didn’t want to vote for. Miami-Dade County investigators had a palm print and fingerprints, phone records, and suspicious stories from the defendants.

What they didn’t count on: lack of cooperation from the voters who were victims of the purported fraud — even though the voters themselves were the ones who initially alerted authorities they had been duped.

At the first trial, the witnesses changed their original testimony. At the second, one of the witnesses testified she didn’t remember the day the incident took place altogether.

And so, James Brady and Samuel Jean, the two campaign workers charged with voter fraud in 2014, didn’t go to jail.


“Donald Trump Won’t Self-Fund General-Election Campaign”


Donald Trump won’t self-fund his general-election campaign, and will instead create a “world-class finance organization,” the presumptive Republican nominee said in an interview on Wednesday.

For a campaign expected to cost more than $1 billion, “I’ll be putting up money, but won’t be completely self-funding, as I did during the primaries,” Mr. Trump said on Wednesday. The New York businessman, who did receive some mostly small unsolicited donations, lent his campaign $36 million of the $47 million he spent through March.

That plan represents a shift for Mr. Trump, who has for months portrayed his Republican opponents as “puppets” for relying on super PACs and taking contributions from wealthy donors that he said came with strings attached.


“A Program in Legislation”

Rudesill, Walker, and Tokaji in JLE:

This Essay urges that Legislation be conceived of not just as a single course, but as a set of curricular and extracurricular offerings that collectively constitute an integrated program of instruction. The three of us teach at The Ohio State University’s Moritz College of Law, which may serve as a model of such a program. Since 1995, Moritz has required Legislation as a part of the first-year curriculum. We also have a variety of upper-level offerings and extracurricular activities that help students develop a practical understanding of the legislative process. This Essay makes the case for an integrated program of instruction, including both an introductory course in the first year and experiential learning opportunities in the second and third years.



“Legislation and Regulation in the Core Curriculum: A Virtue or a Necessity?”

Jim Brudney has posted this draft on SSRN (forthcoming, Journal of Legal Education). Here is the abstract:

The first-year curriculum at American law schools has been remarkably stable for more than 100 years. Many would say ossified. At Harvard, the First-Year Course of Instruction in 1879-80 consisted of Real Property, Contracts, Torts, Criminal Law and Criminal Procedure, and Civil Procedure. These five courses-focused heavily on judge-made common law-dominated Harvard’s IL curriculum from the law school’s founding into the 21st century. The same five subjects have long commanded the primary attention of first-year students at Fordham, founded in 1905, and at virtually every other U.S. law school throughout the 20th century.

Starting in the 1990s, however, a growing number of schools have required a IL course examining different aspects of statutes and regulations. In previous decades, a handful of law schools offered upper-level elective courses in Legislation, including statutory interpretation, to a mixed reception. Administrative Law has been a more regular elective subject, although enrollments by school reflect an uneven proportion of upper-level students. What is new is the array of law schools deciding that a course in Legislation (“Leg”), or Legislation and Regulation (“Leg-Reg”), should be mandatory for first-year students.

There are at least 27 schools that require a first-year course in Leg-Reg, generally for either three or four credits. An additional group of schools require 1Ls to take Leg, a course that often includes greater focus on topics related to the legislative process but does not encompass regulations or the regulatory process as a major component. Overall, nearly 40 law schools currently require some kind of Leg-Reg or Leg course, almost all of them as part of the first-year curriculum. The number of schools requiring such a course represents a sharp increase within the past decade alone.

This article focuses on the importance for legal education of mandating such a course. Part One addresses three distinct justifications for inserting Leg-Reg into the first year of law school. From a pragmatic standpoint, lawyers since the New Deal have devoted ever-increasing time and energy to understanding, applying, interpreting, litigating, and counseling about statutes and the regulations or agency judgments that flow from those statutes. Legal education must catch up. Immersing first-year law students in a systematic approach to the methodology of statutes and regulations is at least as important to their future legal practice as immersing them in the methodology of the common law.

In addition, an early exposure to what it means to “think like a lawyer” outside the courtroom setting can illuminate and deepen appreciation for our three-branch system of government. Courts are the exclusive arbiters of what the common law means, and federal courts have become the primary arbiters of what the Constitution means as well. For statutes, however, the setting is more complex, reflecting a dynamic conversation among all three branches. By requiring first-year students to engage this conversation, law schools generate a more balanced set of insights about how our laws are made and applied. This, in turn, can help to minimize simplistic dichotomies between principled and political decision-making, and encourage students to recognize legislative virtues like consensus building and democratic responsiveness as comparable to the adversarial legalism of the courtroom.

Finally, statutory and regulatory subjects dominate the upper-level curriculum. Accordingly, it makes sense in foundational terms to require that students approach these subjects with an understanding of how laws and rules are shaped and informed by legislative and regulatory processes. A sophisticated methodological background should enable students to focus in more rigorous and also nuanced ways when they grapple with finer points of securities law, environmental law, or the law of telecommunications or civil rights.

Having taught both a required Leg course and a required Leg-Reg course, I believe there are solid arguments for each option. My current thinking is that Leg-Reg presents the stronger claim, but I will briefly address certain separate strengths of a Leg course as well. Whichever option one may consider, a case can be made that it borders on educational malpractice not to include either Leg-Reg or Leg as a mandatory element of the IL curriculum.

The fact that a Leg-Reg or Leg course should be required does not mean that implementing such a course is straightforward. Part Two discusses some challenges that accompany the development of a mandatory Leg-Reg course. These include deciding what topics should be covered and how to calibrate the emphasis between legislation and regulation; determining how Leg-Reg topics may be harmonized with existing subjects, notably Constitutional Law and Administrative Law but also Legal Writing and upper-level electives in Legislation; and reviewing certain institutional obstacles related to staffing a IL course as well as to persuading colleagues with long-standing, sincere investments in their common law subjects to yield some space for a newcomer.



“Federal lawsuit: Louisiana voter registration requirement discriminates against naturalized citizens”


Louisiana is discriminating against naturalized citizens by requiring them to provide citizenship documents when registering to vote – a requirement that is not asked of other potential voters who must simply swear they are U.S. citizens, according to a federal lawsuit filed today by two civil rights groups.

The lawsuit by the Fair Elections Legal Network and the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) was filed on behalf of three naturalized citizens who must meet the requirement, which dates back to 1874. VAYLA New Orleans, a nonprofit organization that has attempted to register voters, is also a plaintiff.

The complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana, can be viewed here. The groups also filed a motion for a preliminary injunction to put this requirement on hold as the case proceeds.


“Secretary of State to Bucher: ‘No need’ for election to replace judge”

Palm Beach Post:

In a 2½-page letter, Detzner told Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher to back off plans to let lawyers file papers to run for the county court seat that Judge Laura Johnson is leaving so she can run for circuit judge. The letter arrived hours after the start of the weeklong period for judicial candidates to qualify for the Aug. 30 election.


Trump May Welcome Super PAC Money

Greg Sargent:

TRUMP FACES BIG DECISION ON SUPER PACs: On Morning Joe today, Trump was asked whether he would “welcome the support of Super PACs in the general election.” He replied:

“I’m going to be making a decision over the next week. I do love self funding…but we do need money for the party. The party will come together….Do I want to sell a couple of buildings and self-fund? I don’t know that I want to do that, necessarily. But I really won’t be asking for money for myself. I’ll be asking for money for the party.”

That sounds like he’s already rehearsing his justification for embracing Super PAC spending on his behalf, which could undercut one of his key arguments against Clinton as a creature of the establishment.


“Montana defends campaign finance law ahead of elections”


Montana attorneys on Tuesday defended the state’s new campaign finance disclosure law against a gun-rights organization that wants parts of it struck down before next month’s primary elections.

The Virginia-based National Association for Gun Rights claims the law passed by state legislators last year would force it to register as a political committee for making issue-advocacy statements that are protected by the First Amendment. The law imposes burdens — filing reports, disclosing contributors and opening a bank account among them — on groups that “simply desire to talk about matters of public concern,” the association’s attorney, Matthew Monforton, said in court filings.

State attorneys argued the law does not prevent so-called social welfare groups such as the National Association for Gun Rights from speaking freely, but it requires disclosure from those who do.


“Frank Askin: A People’s Prof.”


A fond farewell to teaching rarely brings kudos from the nation’s highest court. But Frank Askin, leaving Rutgers Law School after 50 years, is no retiring professor. The dean of New Jersey’s civil rights bar, he’s leaving his mark on New Jersey law, on how law is taught, and on the generations of students he inspired.


“Cruz’s faltering campaign shows the risks of depending on a few wealthy donors”


Ted Cruz, in his outsider’s bid for the White House, has depended heavily on the largesse of just three wealthy donors to establish credibility and stay afloat amid a chaotic nominating process that killed off most of his rivals.

Now, at perhaps the most desperate moment in his quest to win the Republican nomination, Cruz is learning the perils of relying on strong-willed magnates who carry their own agendas and have demanded an unprecedented level of control in how their money is spent.

One of the three primary donors to Cruz’s presidential efforts, a private equity manager who recruited the other two top donors, has refrained from spending the vast majority of his $10 million contribution to bolster the Cruz campaign. He is instead fighting openly with the top strategist for the super PACs that were set up to spend the money.

The man at the center of the fight, Toby Neugebauer, is a close friend of Cruz and his wife, Heidi. Neugebauer and his own wife have vacationed with the Cruzes, and he still counts himself a major supporter. But he has refused to spend $9 million of the $10 million he put into a super PAC.


“President Obama Nominates Nevada’s Kate Marshall To EAC”

Doug Chapin:

The Republican National Lawyers’ Association called the nomination President Obama’s “third strike,” noting Marshall’s lack of elections background and criticizing Democrats for “view[ing] the EAC [as] a place to reward partisans for their service to the liberal movement” and saying “[i]t is sad that the left has so little regard for election administration.” If and when Marshall’s nomination progresses in the Senate, don’t be surprised to hear similar views in committee or on the floor.

My sense, however, is that it likely won’t get that far; with an election year in full swing – and the EAC still in the partisan crosshairs for the ongoing battle over proof-of-citizenship instructions on the federal registration form – I don’t see much of an opening for progress unless Democrats are willing to somehow make this an issue and even then there’s no guarantee it will move the majority to act.

That said, I didn’t think the EAC would ever get new commissioners and – the proof-of-citizenship fight notwithstanding – they are making progress in other areas like voting system standards and hands-on guidance for election officials. I would be surprised, but pleasantly, if the Senate were to confirm Marshall and fill out the EAC.


“Delegate Hunt Fuels Tussle on Little-Known Republican Committee”


Donald Trump’s first attempt to seize some control over the Republican National Committee and the course of the GOP convention is creating a showdown over a little-noticed election for a powerful internal post that helps determine who can become a delegate to the party’s convention.

On Friday, Virginia Haines, an RNC committeewoman from New Jersey, resigned her post as one of nine members of the party’s Committee on Contests, which has initial jurisdiction in settling disputes over which delegates can be seated at the GOP national convention in July.

Mr. Trump’s campaign has been stung by rival Texas Sen. Ted Cruz’s ability to get his supporters elected as convention delegates—even in states where the businessman won the primary or caucus.

With Ms. Haines’s resignation from one of two slots dedicated to the Northeastern states, Mr. Trump’s allies are now waging a fierce battle against two other RNC members seeking to replace her, one of whom has expressed anti-Trump sentiment and the other has claimed neutrality in the internal showdown.


“Virginia Republicans Weigh Court Challenge to Voting Rights for Felons”


Carl W. Tobias, a law professor at the University of Richmond School of Law, said he believed Mr. McAuliffe had the constitutional authority to restore the felons’ voting rights, but a lawsuit could impede voter registration ahead of the November election.

“I think what they are likely to do is to go into state court and to ask for an injunction, basically to stop registration and voting by the people whom the governor has enfranchised,” Mr. Tobias said.

He added: “With the elections coming, the stakes are really high, and so time really is of the essence, I don’t think there’s any question about that.”