Whoa: Judge Posner Attacks Chief Justice Roberts Truthfulness in Campaign Finance Case

While I agree with the sentiment (as anyone who has read my writings on the Chief Justice’s views in the campaign finance and voting rights areas, and in fact I’ve made this exact same attack on the Chief Justice at SCOTUSBlog), I am a bit concerned about a sitting federal appellate judge attacking the Chief Justice like this. It diminishes the judiciary to have judges sniping at each other in public. Does Chief Justice John Roberts…

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About that #SCOTUS Unanimity…A Skeptical Note

Today’s unanimous opinion in the cell phone cases is the latest in an unusual term of unanimity on the Supreme Court. I don’t want to downplay things, but I think the unanimity is likely an aberration. To begin with, the Court is still divided on big issues like campaign finance. Witness the bitter divisions in McCutcheon this term.  Or Shelby County on voting rights last term. And it is still quite divided on abortion and same sex m…

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A New Era for Pay-to-Play

The following is a guest blog post by Jason Abel: Last Friday, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced a settlement involving Rule 206(4)-5, otherwise known as the “pay-to-play” rule for investment advisers.  This settlement is the first of its kind, for the moment.  However, it may mark the start of increased enforcement of pay-to-play rules. As 2014 is upon us and we move toward 2016, the weakening of traditional cam…

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“Commentaries: The Impact of McCutcheon v. FEC”

Over at the Harvard Law Review Forum: Commentaries: The Impact of McCutcheon v. FEC Three leading election-law practitioners discuss the practical import of the Court’s latest campaign-finance decision After McCutcheon The decision will likely help the political parties regain some power By Jonathan S. Berkon & Marc E. Elias Read More The Practical Consequences of McCutcheon The decision leaves our campaign finance system largely…

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Robert Post’s “Citizens Divided” Book

There are a spate of campaign finance books coming out over the next few months—including books by Robert Post, Bob Mutch, Ken Vogel, Zephyr Teachout, and Timothy Kuhner.  I will try to write short reflections on each of these books as I read them.  These will be very short, as I’m in the midst of my own manuscript on campaign finance, which will allow deeper exploration of these books as necessary for my argument. Today a few words…

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“The Irresponsible Actions of a New Government Ethics Group”

City Ethics blog: Government ethics groups come in all shapes and sizes. City Ethics, an ordinary nonprofit, has a website with huge amounts of information about government ethics, and no financial resources. The American Dream Initiative, a social welfare organization founded last year, apparently has large financial resources, but no website and no information about government ethics. I say “apparently” because, according to an art…

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Another Walk for Campaign Finance Reform: This One with #SCOTUS Disrupter in Scorching California

Press release via email: Californians Begin 480-Mile March for Democracy from L.A. To Sacramento Marchers demand “one person, one vote” political equality, an end to Big money corruption in politics Los Angeles, CA – On May 17th, dozens of activists led by the grassroots organization 99Rise will depart Los Angeles City Hall to embark on a 480-mile “March for Democracy” across the state of California to raise awareness and mobilize…

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“Federal court strikes down state rule on political issue ads”

Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel: A federal appeals court has struck down state rules regulating campaign-style issue ads, but the practical impact of the decision is blunted because the rules had already been sidelined by another lawsuit 3 1/2 years ago. Wednesday’s decision by the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago likely ends a legal battle that has played out in state and federal court since 2010. It began when the state Government…

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After McCutcheon, New RNC Challenge to Soft Money Rules

On the day the Supreme Court decided McCutcheon, I wrote in Slate: Third and most dramatically, the court seems to open the door for a future challenge to what remains of the McCain-Feingold law: the ban on large, “soft money” contributions collected by political parties. These contributions were banned because it had become clear that political parties were becoming conduits for access between elected officials and big donors. Today Roberts rej…

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Just a Quick Thought on the John Doe Case and Its Troubling Implications for Campaign Finance Law

Yesterday I linked to this Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article about a new federal court decision.  As the article described it, “a federal judge ordered a halt Tuesday to the John Doe investigation into campaign spending and fundraising by Gov. Scott Walker’s campaign and conservative groups, saying the effort appeared to violate one of the group’s free speech rights.” I am crashing under a number of impending deadlines, which will i…

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“Prosecutors say McDonnell fixated on justice’s remark”

Times Dispatch: Federal prosecutors say former Gov. Bob McDonnell is putting too much stock in Supreme Court Justice Anthony M. Kennedy’s declaration that “ingratiation and access … are not corruption.” Kennedy made the statement in his 2010 Citizens United ruling. In that campaign finance case, the court ruled that the government cannot stop corporations and unions from spending money to back or denounce candidates. Chief Justice John G. Ro…

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“State Aggregate Limits and Proportional Bans under McCutcheon”

New report from CCP. “Policymakers in the District of Columbia and the 18 states with aggregate limits and proportional bans should strongly consider repealing these speech-stifling regulations in order to comply with the precedent set in the McCutcheon decision and avoid a likely successful legal challenge. Additionally, repealing these regulations will also enhance the First Amendment freedoms of the citizens residing in each of these st…

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More on Justice Breyer’s Citation to Book Not in the Record

The other day I noted that Justice Breyer cited to unavailable scholarship in his McCutcheon dissent. I updated the post to reflect that Derek Muller had made those points when the opinion was released, something I had missed.  Here’s another reference I missed, from Collins and Skover’s introduction to the SCOTUSBlog McCutcheon symposium: Reliance on secondary sources While James Madison and  The Federalist Papers  were quoted by th…

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Today’s Must-Read: Liptak Talks to Justice Stevens About Citizens United, McCutcheon

For one thing, in this column Justice Stevens confirms the rumors swirling for years that Justice Souter wrote the first draft of a Citizens United dissent.  (I called for its release in this Slate column.) The draft dissent, which has not been made public, questioned the majority’s attempt to recast a modest case into a blockbuster that would overrule major precedents and allow unlimited campaign spending by corporations and unions. The draft…

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“Change the Constitution in Six Easy Steps? It Won’t Be That Simple, Justice Stevens; From campaign finance to political gerrymandering, the retired Supreme Court justice skips hard arguments in his new book in favor of unrealistic, poorly drafted solutions. “

I have written this book review for The Daily Beast. It begins: Reading retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens’s new book, Six Amendments: How and Why We Should Change the Constitution, I was reminded of an old Steve Martin routine from his standup days. “First, get a million dollars,” Martin explains in “You Can Be a Millionaire and Never Pay Taxes.” Then if the tax collector comes to your door asking why you didn’t pay taxes on your m…

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Perhaps for First Time, Justice Breyer’s McCutcheon Dissent Cites Unavailable Forthcoming Scholarship

…here, the second with a link to a now-expired HUP page) about it when McCutcheon was released–but, sadly, the only response was of interest, not of anyone who could identify any precedent. Interestingly, the HUP link identifying the forthcoming book was available when McCutcheon was released, but it appears that HUP has now moved the page to here: http://www.hup.harvard.edu/catalog.php?isbn=9780674729001 Another question I had is, who se…

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Linda Greenhouse on McCutcheon

NYT: This time, five justices did actually manage to toss something out the window: the post-Watergate system of campaign finance regulation. Only Justice Clarence Thomas, who refused to sign the four-justice plurality opinion by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. because it didn’t go far enough, would have explicitly overturned the court’s foundational precedents in this area. The chief justice tried in his own opinion to persuade readers that…

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“McCutcheon Attorney Files New Challenge To Contribution Limits for Traditional PACs”

Bloomberg BNA: An attorney who helped launch the successful challenge to the cap on individual campaign contributions recently decided by the Supreme Court has filed a new lawsuit challenging limits on contributions by traditional political action committees (PACs) that contribute to candidates (Stop Reckless Economic Instability Caused By Democrats (Stop Reid) v. FEC, E.D. Va., No. 14-397, filed 4/14/14). Attorney Dan Backer of DB Capitol Strat…

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“Supreme Court Protester Sentenced to Time-Served”

Tony Mauro: In a statement to the judge, Newkirk said he had spoken out at the Supreme Court and broken the law “in the tradition of civil disobedience” to draw attention to the court’s 2010 Citizens United ruling and the then-pending McCutcheon campaign finance case. “Our democracy is greatly threatened” by the court’s decisions weakening restrictions on campaign money, Newkirk told McKenna. “The Suprem…

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Updated/Final Versions of Some of My Articles on Campaign Finance, Voting Rights

I’ve posted an updated version, including a short discussion of McCutcheon, of Super PAC Contributions, Corruption, and the Proxy War over Coordination, forthcoming in the Duke Journal of Constitutional Law & Public Policy. I have posted the final version of Three Wrong Progressive Approaches (and One Right One) to Campaign Finance Reform, 8 Harvard Law & Policy Review 21 (2014) I have posted the final version of Shelby County and…

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