“Beyond Corruption Symposium: New Approaches to Money in Politics”

Allie Boldt for Demos:

Today the Election Law Journal published Beyond Corruption, a peer-reviewed symposium on money in politics and the Supreme Court. The symposium was guest-edited by Professor David Schultz and contains pieces by several Demos attorneys, including a Foreword by Demos President Heather McGhee. Other contributors include Blair Bowie, Adam Bonica, Heath Brown, Allegra Chapman, Stephen Gottlieb, Timothy Kuhner, Kate Shaw, Abdi Soltani, and Christopher Witko. In the coming weeks, several of these contributors will reflect on their pieces here on Policy Shop.

The Supreme Court’s approach to money in politics has profoundly shaped our political world: in which businesses and wealthy donors can translate their economic resources directly into political power, distorting policy outcomes in their favor. Over the past forty plus years, the Court has decimated many attempts to limit the donor class’s dominance on our political system. As Demos’ recent Court Cash report reveals, large portions of money in elections are directly attributable to Supreme Court decisions – including $3 billion in spending on the 2016 elections. In striking down protections against big money, the Court has reasoned that lawmakers can only address one particular problem when enacting such protections: quid pro quo corruption (essentially, bribery) or its appearance.

Despite his phony rhetoric about getting big money out of politics, Trump nominated Neil Gorsuch, a radical judge whose record suggests he could push the Court even further to the right on money in politics, and gut the few protections against big money that have survived Supreme Court review thus far.

But the connection between Donald Trump and the Supreme Court’s money in politics decisions runs even deeper than Supreme Court nominees. In her Foreword, Heather McGhee details four ways the Court’s money in politics case law contributed to Trump’s election as POTUS in the first place…


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