In its Citizens United ruling, the court gutted campaign finance laws. It acknowledged that American politics faced the threat of gift-givers and donors trying to corrupt the system, but it held that campaign finance laws were the wrong way to deal with that problem; bribery laws were the better path. Now, though, the court seems ready to gut bribery laws, saying that campaign finance laws provide a better approach. But if both campaign finance laws and bribery laws are now regarded as problematic, what’s left?
With the Supreme Court apparently imagining that there is some other, simple-to-enforce bribery law, we citizens are left empty-handed. This is the first case since Justice Antonin Scalia’s passing to directly address what corruption is; the issue is a critical test of the court.