March 25, 2011

"Rich Candidate Expected To Win Again: Does the Supreme Court care more about free speech for the wealthy than about political corruption?"

My new Jurisprudence essay at Slate is now available. It discusses McComish v. Bennett (oral argument in the Supreme Court on Monday). Here is the conclusion:

    But Davis shouldn't carry the day here. Arizona did not enact its system to "level the playing field," and that is not its effect. Instead, Arizona adopted a public financing system to deal with well-publicized corruption scandal, AzScam, and it incorporated matching funds into the system because it is one of the only ways to create a viable campaign finance system. Rational politicians simply won't opt into public financing if they expect to be vastly outspent by their opponents.

    If you are looking for a common thread between the "more speech is better" theory underlying Citizens United and an expected "more speech is unfair" ruling for the challengers in McComish, it is this: Five conservatives justices on the Supreme Court appear to have no problem with the wealthy using their resources to win elections--even if doing so raises the danger of increased corruption of the political system.

Posted by Rick Hasen at March 25, 2011 08:47 AM