“After Scalia: Don’t give up on campaign finance reform, however hopeless it seems now.”

I have written this Jurisprudence essay for Slate, which begins:

Things look pretty bleak for those who want to limit the role of money in politics. This week, the Supreme Court agreed to hear a case which could make it harder for the government to limit individual contributions directly to candidates, and it may take yet another case which could allow corporations to give directly to candidates (going beyond the court’s decision in Citizens United allowing unlimited corporate independent spending to “independent” groups like super PACs).

While the president has talked a good game about fixing the broken public financing system for presidential campaigns, rewriting the disclosure rules to make them more effective, and repairing the Federal Election Commission, he has not done anything to actually further these goals. Indeed, he’s taking the unprecedented step of converting his campaign committee into a full-time political organization, open to taking unlimited sums from any American person, union, or corporation willing to contribute. Want access to the president’s policy people? Why not give $1 million to OFA (formerly “Obama for America” and now “Organizing for Action”)?

I suspect, especially given recent tweets by Obama advisor David Axelrod about how unlimited contributions to politicians don’t seem so bad, that despite the base-pleasing rhetoric about the need for campaign finance reform, the president and his strategists would be plenty happy with a system where candidates could take contributions from any source in any size, with only disclosure required.

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