“Clinton says she’d make Supreme Court picks aimed at campaign finance reform”


Hllary Rodham Clinton was clear Monday during a campaign stop about one quality she would expect from her nominees to the U.S. Supreme Court if she were to become president – an overhaul of the rapidly evolving campaign finance system that is giving extremely wealthy donors ever more say in presidential contests.

Her position was remarkable for a candidate positioned to shatter fundraising records and push the boundaries of campaign finance law further than any Democrat who has ever run for the White House.



“Hillary Clinton was paid millions by tech industry for speeches”


In one of her last gigs on the paid lecture circuit, Hillary Rodham Clinton addressed an eBay summit aimed at promoting women in the workplace,delivering a 20-minute talk that garnered her a $315,000 payday from the company.

Less than two months later, Clinton was feted at the San Francisco Bay-area home of eBay chief executive John Donahoe and his wife, Eileen, for one of the first fundraisers supporting Clinton’s newly announced presidential campaign.


Breaking: #SCOTUS Denies CCP Emergency Application on Donor Disclosure, With Chance to Renew Later

Rather than asking for a response from the state of California, Justice Kennedy (Circuit Justice for the 9th Circuit) has denied without prejudice CCP’s emergency application for a stay. The order is not yet online, but SCOTUSBlog reports that Justice Kennedy allowed for the order to be renewed “in light of further developments.”

The case involves a requirement that 501c3’s like the Center for Competitive Politics provide unredacted copies of their IRS 990 forms to the State of California.  The 990s list all of the Center’s donors—information which is not released publicly. California does not want these documents for public disclosure, but for California’s law enforcement purposes.

Why would Justice Kennedy proceed this way, rather than order a response from the A.G. and then rule on the merits, either alone or with the entire Court?

One possibility is because the 9th Circuit has already stayed the mandate in this case, although it declined to issue an injunction pending appeal.  (See Rule FRAP 41 and the Circuit comments.) With the mandate stayed, the State of California is unlikely to try to act until the Supreme Court rules on a cert. petition – – and if it does, as Lyle Denniston notes, Justice Kennedy has kept the door open to CCP.

According to the circuit comments to FRAP 41, the fact that the 9th Circuit stayed the mandate means that the court has determined CCP has a non-frivolous argument to be made to the Supreme Court.

[This post has been updated.]



“Clinton Friend’s Libya Role Blurs Lines of Politics and Business”


Mr. Gowdy’s chief interest, according to people briefed on the inquiry, is a series of memos that Mr. Blumenthal — who was not an employee of the State Department — wrote to Mrs. Clinton about events unfolding in Libya before and after the death of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi. According to emails obtained by The New York Times, Mrs. Clinton, who was secretary of state at the time, took Mr. Blumenthal’s advice seriously, forwarding his memos to senior diplomatic officials in Libya and Washington and at times asking them to respond. Mrs. Clinton continued to pass around his memos even after other senior diplomats concluded that Mr. Blumenthal’s assessments were often unreliable.

But an examination by The New York Times suggests that Mr. Blumenthal’s involvement was more wide-ranging and more complicated than previously known, embodying the blurry lines between business, politics and philanthropy that have enriched and vexed the Clintons and their inner circle for years.


“Active Firms and Active Shareholders: Corporate Political Activity and Shareholder Proposals”

Geeyoung Min and Hye Young You have posted this draft on SSRN.  Here is the abstractL

Corporate political activity has become one of shareholders’ top concerns. We examine whether firms targeted by shareholder proposals show different campaign contributions and lobbying activities compared to non-targeted firms. We also ask whether different sponsors of shareholder proposals target different firms depending on the firms’ partisan orientation. Using data on S&P 500 companies during the period between 2007 and 2013, we find that firms that spend more on campaign contributions and lobbying are more likely to be targeted by shareholder proposals. After controlling for firms’ financial performance, governance characteristics and ownership structure, we also find that public pension funds and labor unions sponsors are more likely to target Republican-leaning firms, measured by the firms’ campaign contributions. This finding suggests that increasing corporate political activity can intensify a tension between management and public pension fund and labor union shareholders and lead to more activism by these shareholders.

(h/t Prof. Bainbridge)


“Racism Is Destroying the Right to Vote”

Sean McElwee at Demos:


As the chart shows, the relationship between racial stereotyping and ease of access is strong. Although other variables certainly play a role, the R-squared value suggests about a quarter of a system’s ease of access can be explained by racial animus. This builds upon previous analysis. It suggests that while racial animus might not immediately predict the passage of a law, over time it can change the structure of a state’s voting system.



With Justice Ginsburg, Is Today’s “Constitution” Yesterday’s “Broccoli?”

This morning Maureen Dowd reported for the NYT about a same-sex wedding she attended officiated by Justice Ginsburg:

But the most glittering moment for the crowd came during the ceremony. With a sly look and special emphasis on the word “Constitution,” Justice Ginsburg said that she was pronouncing the two men married by the powers vested in her by the Constitution of the United States.

No one was sure if she was emphasizing her own beliefs or giving a hint to the outcome of the case the Supreme Court is considering whether to decide if same-sex marriage is constitutional.

But the guests began applauding loudly, delighted either way. Justice Ginsburg, who has officiated at same-sex weddings in the past, also seemed delighted, either by their reaction or, perhaps, by the news that she will be played in a movie by Natalie Portman (who, in a strange casting segue, will play Jackie Kennedy Onassis in another film).

Reading too much into the tea leaves perhaps?  Well not with Justice Ginsburg.  Recall this 2012 post from Orin Kerr, writing just before the Supreme Court upheld the (first) challenge to the Affordable Care Act:

This post is nothing but sheer speculation without any support whatsoever. I’m sure I’m wrong about this, and you shouldn’t take this post at all seriously. Really, it’s just silliness that you should ignore. With those caveats, I was intrigued by Justice Ginsburg’s light and amusing tone during her commentary about the Affordable Care Act litigation at last week’s American Constitution Society convention. Justice Ginsburg often gives public speeches and comments to the press about the current Term, and more than any other Justice she is willing to give a few subtle hints about how the Court’s major undecided cases might be coming out. The thinking — perhaps foolish — is that her tone in these speeches acts as a modest but not-entirely-useless barometer of how her side is doing.

If you watch Justice Ginsburg speaking about the Affordable Care Act case starting at the 27:40 mark of the video, she seems to be having fun talking about the case. She says that the case is indeed “unprecedented,” at least if you mean unprecedented in “the number of press conference, prayer circles, protests, and counter-protests” held during the oral argument. She describes one of the questions as being whether the individual mandate should be “chopped like a head of broccoli” from federal law. She pokes fun at the obscurity of the anti-injunction act issue. She jokes about the rumors concerning when the case will be handed down. Maybe Justice Ginsburg was just in a good mood. Maybe there were just some obvious jokes to make on the mandate case relative to some of the criminal cases she covered. Yes, I’m sure that’s it. Any other conclusion would be silly speculation. But given all the interest in how the individual mandate case might come out, I wonder if some are speculating that Ginsburg’s tone reflects some satisfaction with how the case came out.



A Real Money Primary

People sometimes talk about the invisible primary, or the role of wealth in making candidates viable.  Well Bill Scher wants to put that insight into action for the Republican primary debates:

How do you accomplish that? Boil it down to the one objective measure that really matters before the first vote is cast: money. Here’s the only criterion the RNC needs: Only let on stage the top 12 fundraisers.


“Sign of the Times: Florida Governor’s U-Turn on OVR”

A ChapinBlog:

Florida’s experience on OVR is just the latest example of how the policy debate has shifted on election issues in recent years. At this time four years ago, the hot topic was voter ID and all the divisive partisan heat that brings. While ID legislation lives on in some legislatures – and clearly in many legislators’ hearts – OVR’s emergence as the new trend is legislators is quite remarkable.

Some of this is the result of the steady support of OVR supporters, but I think the biggest factor in OVR’s emergence as a subject of “vehement agreement” nationally belongs to the Presidential Commission on Election Administration. The PCEA’s report went a long toward legitimizing OVR as a topic worthy of bipartisan agreement, in part by pointing out to would-be partisan opponents that online registration can both expand the rolls with supportive voters AND achieve many if not all of the policy goals underlying voter ID.

Indeed, we’ve reached the point where OVR’s emergence is starting to spark new battles within parties instead of between them – like in Ohio, where the Secretary of State continues to beat the drum and is assembling a Florida-style coalition of county offices in support in order to overcome apparent opposition from his fellow Republicans in the Legislature.


BREAKING: Cert Denied in Wisconsin John Doe Case at SCOTUS

Here is the order list:

14-872 O’KEEFE, ERIC, ET AL. V. CHISHOLM, JOHN, ET AL. The motion of Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty for leave to file a brief as amicus curiae is granted. The motion of The Maciver Institute for Public Policy for leave to file a brief as amicus curiae is granted. The motion of Cause of Action for leave to file a brief as amicus curiae is granted. The motion of Center for Competitive Politics, et al. for leave to file a brief as amici curiae is granted. The motion of The Cato Institute for leave to file a brief as amicus curiae is granted. The motion of respondents John T. Chisholm, David Robles, and Bruce J. Landgraf for leave to file a brief in opposition under seal with redacted copies for the public record is granted. The petition for a writ of certiorari is denied.

This is not a big surprise, as this really was not a good case for looking at the campaign finance/coordination issues presented, especially because much of it could be mooted by an expected decision of the Wisconsin Supreme Court this summer which, along party lines, could well put the case to rest.

(No order today in Evenwel v. Abbott, the one person, one vote non-citizen voting case, but I’m expecting an eventual summary affirmance [corrected].)


“Patience Roggensack to stay chief justice for now, after judge rules”

Patrick Marley for the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:

A federal judge on Friday declined to issue an order allowing Shirley Abrahamson to serve as chief justice of the Wisconsin Supreme Court while she pursues litigation to allow her to hold that job until 2019.

It was the third time U.S. District Judge James Peterson declined to block the Supreme Court from putting another justice in charge of Wisconsin’s high court, and he hinted Abrahamson would have difficulty ultimately winning the lawsuit. He told her lawyer he had the “tougher argument” in the case and was “breaking new ground” with his arguments.

The Supreme Court has been marked by infighting and controversy in recent years, and Peterson said it was important to restore its reputation. But he isn’t the one who can do that, he said.

“If there is to be a restoration of the confidence the public feels in the Supreme Court, it has to come from the court itself,” he said.


“The Right Baits the Left to Turn Against Hillary Clinton”

Must-read NYT on Twitter and campaigns:

For months now, America Rising has sent out a steady stream of posts on social media attacking Mrs. Clinton, some of them specifically designed to be spotted, and shared, by liberals. The posts highlight critiques of her connections to Wall Street and the Clinton Foundation and feature images of Democrats like Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York, interspersed with cartoon characters and pictures of Kevin Spacey, who plays the villain in “House of Cards.” And as they are read and shared, an anti-Clinton narrative is reinforced.

America Rising is not the only conservative group attacking Mrs. Clinton from the left. Another is American Crossroads, the group started by Karl Rove, which has been sending out its own digital content, including one ad using a speech Ms. Warren gave at the New Populism Conference in Washington last May.

“Powerful interests have tried to capture Washington and rig the system in their favor,” intones Ms. Warren, as images of Mrs. Clinton with foreign leaders flash by.

The new-style digital campaign captures some basic facts about 21st-century communication: Information travels at warp speed on social media, it is sometimes difficult to know where that information comes from, and most people like to read things with which they agree. The result, said Ken Goldstein, a professor of politics at the University of San Francisco who specializes in political advertising, is something more sophisticated.


“How Money Runs Our Politics”

Elizabeth Drew in the NY Review of Books:

The three major defects of our election system—in voter registration, redistricting, and campaign finance—have all become worse in recent years. As a nation we’ve drifted very far from our moorings of truly representational government. Because of what has become known about the large sums of money being invested in the candidates by the super-wealthy at an early stage of the 2016 campaigns, the fact that something has gone wrong has begun to take hold. That may be the first step toward reform; what’s needed after that are stamina and keeping our attention on the fundamental requirements of a democracy.


CCP Seeks Emergency #SCOTUS Relief in CA Donor Disclosure Case

Lyle Denniston:

A Virginia-based political advocacy group asked the Supreme Court on Friday to bar state officials in California from gaining access to the lists of people who donate money or services to it.  The Center for Competitive Politics, a vigorous supporter of political free-speech rights that does not get involved directly in election campaigns, asked for the protection until it can file a formal appeal to the Court on the constitutional dispute.

The Center’s plea (application 14A1179), along with the ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and other Circuit Court orders, can be read here.  It was filed with Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, who handles emergency matters from that geographic region.  He can act on his own or share the issue with his colleagues.The identity of those who give money to the Center is provided in a document (Form 990) that it must file with the Internal Revenue Service to qualify for tax-exempt status — under tax code 501(c)(3) — as an educational organization.

Ordinarily, that document remains confidential with IRS — a requirement imposed by federal law.  However, a growing number of state attorneys general — including California’s — have been demanding access to organizations’ copies of that document in full form, contending that they need the financial data as they enforce state laws regulating groups that raise money within the state as charities.


“Cash is not king: Jeb Bush’s Super PAC problem”

Anthony Gaughan has written this piece for The Conversation:

Thus, while Jeb Bush’s fund-raising numbers sound impressive by previous standards, his campaign war chest doesn’t scare anyone today. No candidate will monopolize Republican fund-raising in 2016. The flood of money unleashed by Citizens United means there is plenty to go around for everyone, including candidates openly hostile to the GOP establishment.

If Jeb Bush is to win the nomination, he’s going to have to do it by winning over rank-and-file Republican voters. The days when the party establishment could use its fund-raising powers to control the nomination process are long gone.


“Who Makes Voting Convenient? Explaining the Adoption of Early and No-Excuse Absentee Voting in the American States”

Daniel Biggers and Michael Hanmer have written this article for State Politics & Policy Quarterly.  Here is the abstract:

Recent elections have witnessed substantial debate regarding the degree to which state governments facilitate access to the polls. Despite this newfound interest, however, many of the major reforms aimed at increasing voting convenience (i.e., early voting and no-excuse absentee voting) were implemented over the past four decades. Although numerous studies examine their consequences (on turnout, the composition of the electorate, and/or electoral outcomes), we know significantly less about the factors leading to the initial adoption of these policies. We attempt to provide insights into such motivations using event history analysis to identify the impact of political and demographic considerations, as well as diffusion mechanisms, on which states opted for easier ballot access. We find that adoption responded to some factors signaling the necessity of greater voting convenience in the state, and that partisanship influenced the enactment of early voting but not no-excuse absentee voting procedures.


“Election Laws and Agenda Setting: How Election Law Restrictiveness Shapes the Complexity of State Ballot Measures”

Kerri Milita has written this article for State Politics and Policy Quarterly. Here is the abstract:

Recently, many U.S. states that allow citizen initiatives have passed laws designed to make it more difficult for an initiative to qualify for the ballot (e.g., by increasing the number of signatures required to get on the ballot), thereby making it harder for citizens to bypass the legislature and make direct changes to public policy. Such laws have reduced both the number of measures that make the ballot and the number that pass on Election Day. I show that laws governing access of initiatives to the ballot also shape the policy agenda; provisions making it harder for proposals to get on the ballot decrease the complexity of the initiatives on the ballot. As less complex initiatives are more likely to be understood by voters and voters are reluctant to vote for measures they do not understand, more restrictive laws actually increase the likelihood that an initiative will pass.



“Democrats Play Hardball on Voting Laws Ahead of 2016″


The current legal challenge in Ohio is an early glimpse into some of the Democratic-led fights that will unfold over the next 18 months before the general election, as attorneys begin to aggressively challenge restrictive voting laws enacted and implemented predominantly by Republicans.

“You’re going to see an increase in the number of lawsuits challenging restrictive voting laws because there is a concerted effort by some on the right to make it harder to vote,” Elias, Clinton’s campaign lawyer who filed the case, told TIME. “You will see more lawsuits because there are more bad laws.”



“Alphabetically Ordered Ballots and the Composition of American Legislatures”

Barry Edwards has written this article for the State Politics and Policy Quarterly. Here is the abstract:

Although research demonstrates that favorable ballot position can deliver candidates a small windfall of votes in local, nonpartisan, and primary elections, it is not clear whether ballot order laws have had any impact on the composition of U.S. legislatures. In this article, I estimate the substantive significance of ballot order rules by comparing the legislators of states that alphabetically order ballots to those elected by states that randomize or rotate ballot order. I also compare legislators elected by states that started or stopped alphabetically ordering ballots in recent decades. I find that states that alphabetically order ballots disproportionately elect candidates with early alphabet surnames. My research challenges the prevailing belief that ballot order affects only minor elections and suggests that seemingly innocuous rules have altered our political landscape. I conclude that arbitrary ballot ordering rules should be reformed to remedy their substantial impact on political representation.


“Voting Rights for Whom? Examining the Effects of the Voting Rights Act on Latino Political Incorporation”

Melissa Marschall and Amanda Rutherford have written this article for AJPS.  Here is the abstract:

This study applies insights from principal-agent models to examine whether and how the language assistance provisions of the Voting Rights Act, Sections 203 and 4(f)(4), affect Latino representation. Using panel data from 1984–2012, we estimate two-stage models that consider the likelihood and extent of Latino board representation for a sample of 1,661 school districts. In addition, we examine how policy design as well as federal oversight and enforcement shape implementation and compliance with the language assistance provisions. Our findings not only provide the first systemic evidence that the language assistance provisions have a direct effect on Latino representation, but also link the efficacy of the language assistance provisions to the duration and consistency of coverage and the presence of federal elections observers. Overall, our study underscores the continued need for federal government involvement in protecting the voting rights of underrepresented groups, in this case, language minority citizens.


NH Supreme Court Strikes Voter Registration Language Tying Right to Register to Possession of Driver’s License

Guare v. State of New Hampshire:

Thus, not only has the State failed to establish that the challenged language is necessary to comply with HAVA, but it also has failed to demonstrate that the challenged language actually addresses HAVA compliance. Accordingly, because the challenged language unreasonably burdens the fundamental right to vote, and because, even if we assume that the burden is not severe, the State has failed to advance a sufficiently weighty interest to justify the language, we affirm the trial court’s determination that the challenged language violates Part I, Article 11 of the State Constitution.

(h/t Marc Elias)


“Republicans reject another way to expand voting access”


Democrats and Republicans have battled in recent years over almost every major aspect of voting rules. But they have found one rare area of agreement: allowing people to register to vote online—an innovation that a growing number of states are adopting.

Now though, key officials in some big Republican-led states are getting cold feet about the idea. In Florida, Gov. Rick Scott’s administration has used some outlandish claims in opposing an online registration measure. In Texas, GOP lawmakers voted down a similar bill citing concerns about fraud. And in Ohio, an online voter registration bill being pushed by the Republican secretary of state is stalled in the GOP-controlled legislature.

The emerging intra-party split on the issue underscores a stark reality: Despite record low turnout last November, there are now essentially no policies for significantly expanding access to the polls—save perhaps uncontroversial proposals to help service-members vote—that the GOP wholeheartedly supports.