Category Archives: ELB Book Corner

ELB Book Corner: Ann Southworth: “Some Implications”

I am pleased to welcome Ann Southworth to the ELB Book Corner, author of the new book,  Big Money Unleashed: The Campaign to Deregulate Election Spending (Chicago). The discount code for ELB readers is BIGMONEY2023.  This is the final of three posts:

Here I briefly describe one theme explored in the second half of Big Money Unleashed.

As noted in my first post, opponents of campaign finance regulation borrowed and improved upon a model of constitutional change forged by civil rights and civil liberties activists in an earlier era. That model of law reform attracted substantial criticism in the Warren and Burger Court years, mostly but not exclusively from the political right. Critics argued that unelected judges and activist lawyers were exercising powers that properly belonged to the elected branches and that they were proclaiming rights not found in the Constitution, using illegitimate methods of interpretation and reasoning. As the composition of the federal judiciary changed to include more judges drawn from and vetted by Federalist Society and Heritage Foundation networks, and as conservatives created a field of legal-advocacy organizations to pursue constitutional rights claims through the courts, liberals and conservatives swapped roles in these debates. Liberals and progressives are now more often the ones crying foul and raising concerns about the legitimacy of the process, as conservatives pursue and win major rulings, some of which are antithetical to the goals of the movements that pioneered the strategies.

The story told in Big Money Unleashed demonstrates—if any such evidence were necessary—that the development of constitutional law in the U.S. does not stand apart from politics. Lawyers, advocacy groups, and political and financial patrons worked through the courts to alter what falls into the category of constitutionally protected free speech and association. As they sought to expand constitutional protection for campaign spending, they made common cause with advocates and financial backers who saw how free speech claims could be similarly useful in other policy battles—e.g., over economic regulations, union activities, consumer protection, abortion, and LGBTQ rights. An emerging conservative media ecosystem helped to disseminate these ideas about the meaning of the First Amendment. Many of the same players were also active in federal judicial nomination and confirmation battles.

Critics of the Supreme Court’s First Amendment jurisprudence, such as Jeremy Kessler and David Pozen, identify a deeply inegalitarian tendency that has become more pronounced during the Roberts Court era. They say that free-speech doctrine now operates much like the Lochner era’s Fourteenth Amendment jurisprudence, enabling powerful actors to thwart economic and social welfare regulation. Speech law has veered quite far from its origins in claims on behalf of political dissenters in the early twentieth century.

Those who hope to loosen constitutional law’s constraints on regulating money in American politics have extraordinarily difficult work ahead. The process that generated current campaign finance law involved battles over judicial appointments, but it also entailed substantial investments in legal theories, institutions, networks, coalitions, and messaging. If the doctrine now tilts too far toward a libertarian conception of the First Amendment, and if it rests on a flawed conception of responsive democracy that prioritizes responsiveness to major donors over accountability to the people, achieving a better balance will require major long-term investments like the ones that got us here.

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ELB Book Corner: Ann Southworth: “The Players and the Process”

I am pleased to welcome Ann Southworth to the ELB Book Corner, author of the new book,  Big Money Unleashed: The Campaign to Deregulate Election Spending (Chicago). The discount code for ELB readers is BIGMONEY2023.  This is the second of three posts:

I’ll turn now to the roles played by lawyers, legal advocacy groups, and political and financial patrons in the process of reshaping First Amendment law to prevent most regulation of money in politics.

My interest in this topic grew out of research for another book, Lawyers of the Right: Professionalizing the Conservative Coalition (2008), a group portrait of the lawyers active in the conservative legal movement. That book explored the role of lawyer networks in generating ideas necessary to change law, cultivating credibility for those ideas, pursuing law reform campaigns modeled on those of public interest law groups of the political left, and building litigation alliances. It also considered the challenges of managing deep differences in the policy priorities of the primary constituencies of the conservative legal movement. These constituencies mostly avoided direct conflict with one another in Supreme Court litigation during the period covered by my research, but they generally did not actively assist one another. Campaign finance regulation was an exception; organizations linked with all the major constituencies of the Republican alliance joined together on the same side. I found it puzzling that social conservatives assisted in a battle that seemed likely to benefit primarily wealthy individuals and corporations, perhaps even at the expense of the more populist elements of the Republican alliance.

The story of Big Money Unleashed begins in the 1970s, when entrepreneurial lawyers demonstrated how a policy dispute over campaign finance regulation could be transformed into a constitutional battle waged through the courts. They received support from wealthy individuals of the political left and right who wanted greater freedom to use their money in elections and from politicians who wanted that financial backing. The effort gathered momentum as opponents of regulation established specialized groups to challenge restrictions, recruited ideologically committed lawyers, and introduced and reworked ideas to unite disparate groups and constituencies (or at least the lawyers for these groups and constituencies) around the idea that regulating campaign spending amounts to censoring political expression. Lawyers generated legal theories, found sympathetic plaintiffs, and organized amicus support and media strategies. Opponents of regulation tapped into legal mobilization around abortion, guns, and Tea Party activism, as well as populist mistrust of elites, framing the effort as a fight on behalf of the little guy’s right to engage in free speech. They were attentive to signals from the justices. The ACLU and some labor groups offered partial support. The Federalist Society’s Free Speech and Election Law Practice Group served as a site for cultivating arguments and coordinating strategy.

Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell played a central role. He led Republican opposition to campaign finance legislation, assembled teams of lawyers to challenge regulations in the courts, recruited FEC commissioners who shared his opposition to regulating campaign finance, and oversaw the appointment of federal judges who would be receptive to this deregulatory agenda (and other Republican priorities). He deployed his considerable fundraising prowess to raise money that Republican leaders could use to try to hold the fractious G.O.P. coalition together.

Big Money Unleashed is an account of the creation of constitutional doctrine that gives Mitch McConnell and other opponents of regulation confidence that they will prevail in the courts, even if legislators try to impose new restrictions on money in American politics.

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ELB Book Corner: Ann Southworth: “$peech”

I am pleased to welcome Ann Southworth to the ELB Book Corner, author of the new book,  Big Money Unleashed: The Campaign to Deregulate Election Spending (Chicago). The discount code for ELB readers is BIGMONEY2023.  This is the first of three posts:


            I am grateful to Rick Hasen for the opportunity to post about my new book, Big Money Unleashed: The Campaign to Deregulate Election Spending. My posts today, Thursday, and Friday sketch the book’s argument and some implications, using edited excerpts from the book.

Americans across party lines believe that reducing the influence of money in politics should be a top policy priority. But legislators are constrained in responding to these concerns by Supreme Court decisions finding that most campaign finance regulations violate the First Amendment. The text of the First Amendment does not mention campaign finance, of course. How then did we arrive at a constitutional understanding that impedes legislative action in this area? 

 Most ELB readers are familiar with the broad history of the doctrine. In Buckley v. Valeo (1976), the Court issued a compromise ruling on the constitutionality of election reform legislation adopted in the wake of the Watergate scandal. Buckley upheld the statute’s contribution limits but found that the law’s limits on independent expenditures violated the First Amendment’s guarantee of free speech and association. The Court ruled that the only constitutionally permissible reason to regulate campaign finance was to prevent corruption and the appearance of corruption; government could not limit money in politics to promote political equality. The justices’ votes cut across ideological and partisan lines.

For years after Buckley, the Court upheld campaign finance laws that could be construed as fighting corruption, but it has invalidated or severely limited nearly every campaign finance regulation it has considered since 2006. (Federal Election Commission v. Wisconsin Right to Life (2007), Davis v. Federal Election Commission (2008), Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission (2010), Arizona Free Enterprise Club’s Freedom PAC v. Bennett (2011), American Tradition Partnership Inc. Bullock (2012), and McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission (2014).) The majority opinions in these sharply divided rulings treat campaign finance regulation as a dangerous form of government censorship.

What explains the sharp deregulatory turn? The most important and obvious part of the answer is about judicial appointments. The Supreme Court assumed a more hostile stance toward campaign finance laws as Republican-appointed justices vetted through the conservative legal movement gained control. Justice Samuel Alito’s arrival on the Court to replace Justice Sandra Day O’Connor gave opponents of campaign finance regulation the majority they needed to strike down these laws.

But that is not the whole story. The central claim of Big Money Unleashed is that this change in constitutional law is the result of a long-term project in which lawyers, advocacy organizations, and their political and financial patrons also played key roles. Drawing from anonymous interviews with fifty-two lawyers who participated in major cases, as well as public records and archival materials, the book explores how these actors constructed an understanding of the First Amendment that makes most campaign finance regulation vulnerable to constitutional challenge. They pursued a litigation campaign modeled on the NAACP’s strategy for attacking racial segregation. The justices participated in developing the law, of course, but so did the attorneys who devised the theories necessary to support the doctrine, the legal advocacy groups that advanced those theories, the patrons who promoted and financed these efforts, and the networks through which these actors coordinated strategy and held the Court accountable. There was nothing inevitable about how those theories, actors, and resources came together to create new law, and there was nothing inevitable about the doctrine that resulted from this effort.

As a result of this litigation campaign, claims about the meaning of the First Amendment that were novel when introduced decades ago are now firmly embedded in constitutional law. That law is a source of power for those with big money to wield in elections and for the politicians who attract support from big money players.

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ELB Book Corner: Mary Zielger: “Abortion and Overcoming Popular Will”

I am pleased to welcome Mary Ziegler to the ELB Book Corner, author of the new book, Dollars for Life: The Anti-Abortion Movement and the Fall of the Republican Establishment (Yale, 2022). Here is the final of three posts:

The antiabortion movement long made the argument echoed in Dobbs: that Roe had short-circuited a process of public deliberation, and that American democracy would be stronger if elected representatives, rather than judges, made decisions about abortion. The Dobbs Court itself stressed this argument in explaining the decision to dismantle the right to choose abortion. For years, some within the movement had suggested that returning the issue to voters would benefit the movement—and not just because federal constitutional challenges would be off the table. From the 1970s onward, some within the movement believed that most Americans would seek to criminalize abortion if they truly understood what it was.

But from the 1960s onward, the antiabortion movement saw the protection of the fetal person as far more important than popular politics. That made campaign finance rules more important: if the abortion fight was about who exercised power, rather than about what voters wanted, then campaign spending could give a movement with an unpopular position a much-needed edge.

By the 2010s, antiabortion groups had tied their campaign finance work to efforts to what they framed as ballot integrity work. Bopp, the general counsel of the National Right to Life Committee, worked with Judicial Watch and attorneys like Cleta Mitchell to devise strategies to make it harder to vote; antiabortion attorneys drafted and defended voter ID laws. Bopp became general counsel for True the Vote, defending the group in court and challenging early and mail-in-balloting schemes in the lead-up to the 2020 election.

After the January 6th attack, movement leaders only redoubled this work. The Susan B. Anthony List and Family Research Council launched a project to limit early and mail-in balloting. The Thomas More Society invested in the Amistad Project, which had sought to overturn the 2020 election and more recently championed the independent state legislature theory.

The movement’s involvement with voting and campaign finance in part reflects broader changes to the Republican Party. Deepening political polarization and negative and affective partisanship, along with the rise of conservative media, had fueled the emergence of populist candidates interested in catering to the base, while using tools like gerrymandering to make it harder for others to vote.

But antiabortion leaders had their own reason for devising strategies to make it harder for voters to register their views on reproductive rights. Polls after Citizens United and Dobbs showed that voters were still against sweeping bans—if anything, in states where criminal laws were in force, opposition only hardened. The result of ballot initiatives confirmed that voters might not be friendly to the movement’s strategies (the abortion-rights side prevailed in six of six initiatives in 2022).

The story in Dollars for Life is about a movement seeking to change the law and broader society without changing hearts and minds. That process is ongoing: in Ohio, lawmakers are experimenting with a strategy to make it harder for voters to approve ballot initiatives; Republicans in other states have also considered steps to make it harder for voters to put abortion on the ballot.

That story also has important lessons for those seeking to reverse Dobbs. The antiabortion movement had a clever litigation strategy and tremendous patience, but by the 1990s, the movement’s savviest players understood that it might never win unless there were broader changes to the way elections worked and the way the Supreme Court as an institution functioned. Over the past half century, the abortion struggle has become a battle about not just reproductive rights but voting rights and campaign finance. And just as smart lawyering would never have been enough to get rid of Roe, much more will be needed to undo Dobbs.

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ELB Book Corner: Mary Zielger: “Transforming the Republican Party”

I am pleased to welcome Mary Ziegler to the ELB Book Corner, author of the new book, Dollars for Life: The Anti-Abortion Movement and the Fall of the Republican Establishment (Yale, 2022). Here is the second of three posts:

The consensus view of political scientists and historians for some time had been that the GOP had said all the right things when it came to abortion but used very little political capital on the issue, when it came to judicial nominations, federal legislation, or executive orders. That was how antiabortion lawyers understood the lay of the land after Casey. Lawyers for groups like the National Right to Life Committee believed that Republican presidents preferred to pick the justices who would be the most easily confirmed—and ultimately made decisions to maximize their own electability.

This kind of justice, in turn, would be more likely to worry about the institutional legitimacy of the Court, or about her own legacy. These kinds of considerations might lead to hesitation when the moment came to consider the reversal of Roe. To get Roe reversed, antiabortion lawyers believed in the 1990s, would require justices who cared less about public opinion and were indifferent to backlash. That, in turn, seemed to require a very different kind of Republican leadership.

For the moment, it seemed that Republican leaders prized electable candidates, at least in national elections. Antiabortion leaders pointed as an example to the 1996 campaign of Pat Buchanan, a kind of proto-Trump who railed against working women, called for the criminalization of abortion, and waved a literal pitchfork. Republican primary voters had adored Buchanan early in the 1996 election season, especially compared to Bob Dole, the dull and dour senator from Kansas, but many in the GOP feared that Buchanan was too extreme for general election voters, and major donors and party leaders managed to bury Buchanan’s candidacy in a mountain of soft money. For the leaders of groups like the National Right to Life Committee, the key was to find a way to ensure the success of the next Pat Buchanan—and to counterbalance the financial muscle of traditional party leaders.

Most simply, focusing on campaign finance might make it easier for Republicans—who historically outraised the competition—to win elections and cast votes against abortion. But the movement’s vision for campaign finance was more complex. Becoming adept at circumventing existing rules—or helping to lead the charge to gut them in Congress or court—could make the antiabortion movement seem to be a more valuable political partner. Well before Roe, Americans strongly opposed the kind of outright ban preferred by most in the antiabortion movement, and at various points in the past, that made partnering with the movement seem to be a political liability. Becoming a major player in the world of campaign finance could give ambivalent Republicans a reason to stick with the antiabortion movement.

Over time, in the lead-up to and aftermath of major decisions like Citizens United and SpeechNow, the campaign finance struggle served an additional aim: creating opportunities for outside spending groups, like nonprofits and super PACs. Of course, traditional party leaders could (and did) form their own such groups (Karl Rove, perhaps the ultimate establishment figure, created one of the most famous early super PACs). But it would be harder for the pro-electability party insiders to control outside spending groups. That might make it easier for conservative movements to have more of a say—and to save the next Pat Buchanan.

All of this did not solve the movement’s problems. A politician like Pat Buchanan might take the right positions on abortion, and might answer to grassroots conservatives. But there was a reason Republican leaders had not wanted to see someone like Buchanan at the top of the ticket: he would lose. To reverse Roe, then, the movement had to find a way to exercise power when its ultimate goal remained deeply unpopular.

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ELB Book Corner: Mary Zielger:  “A New Look at the Path to Dobbs”

I am pleased to welcome Mary Ziegler to the ELB Book Corner, author of the new book, Dollars for Life: The Anti-Abortion Movement and the Fall of the Republican Establishment (Yale, 2022). Here is the first of three posts:

Since the decision of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, commentators have tried to explain how the conservative legal movement and antiabortion movement achieved such a tremendous victory—and in the face of consistent public support for abortion rights. In recent months, progressives have spotlighted the incremental litigation campaign developed by the antiabortion movement.

For the past fifty years, the antiabortion movement’s underlying goal remained sweeping: not just the reversal of Roe but the recognition of fetal personhood and the creation of a national ban on abortion. But the campaign to reverse Roe proceeded more gradually, centering on comparably modest restrictions and defending them as consistent with Roe. In this way, the movement sought to hollow Roe out and make it easier to overrule.

There is already parallel campaign to reverse Dobbs. Reproductive rights litigators are seeking limited victories in state court, focusing on state constitutional rights to avert death, for example, or access the procedure in cases of rape or incest. This campaign has already created an important platform for the stories of women and other pregnant people living in states where abortion is a crime. State supreme courts, even in conservative states, have recognized limited rights. Incrementalism, it seems, may be working.

As the current fight against Dobbs suggests, the history of the quest to reverse Roe has ongoing importance, and focusing on the antiabortion movement’s litigation strategy tells less than half the story. Abortion opponents developed this litigation strategy in the 1970s, and aligned with the Republican Party in the early 1980s, but neither strategy yielded much in the way of results until decades later. In truth, the reversal of Roe had as much to do with changes to the way Americans vote and spend in elections, as I argue in Dollars for Life, a book recently published by Yale University Press.

The book draws on extensive archival research, including exclusive access to the archive of James Bopp Jr., a prominent figure in struggles over campaign finance and abortion. The book began when I was working on a previous project and kept encountering material on campaign finance in the archives of antiabortion organizations. These finds did not at first make much sense: antiabortion groups had comparably fewer resources and did not stand to benefit more than most interest groups if more money was funneled into federal elections (if anything, groups supportive of abortion rights, like Planned Parenthood, have customarily outraised and spent their opponents on the right). There were obvious antiabortion figures in the history of campaign finance litigation: Senator James Buckley, the brother of the conservative commentator William F. Buckley, was not just a part of Buckley v. Valeo but also the champion of an antiabortion constitutional amendment. One of the Supreme Court’s early decisions on campaign finance and ideological nonprofits, Massachusetts Citizens for Life v. Federal Election Commission, involved part of the movement. But there seemed to be no reason that the antiabortion movement would take a deeper interest in money in politics.

The more deeply I researched, though, the clearer it became that many within the movement had come to realize that an incremental litigation campaign was not enough. Immediately after Roe, antiabortion lawyers had prioritized a constitutional amendment, and when that failed, even with a Republican in the White House and the GOP controlling both house of Congress, the movement developed a new focus: the reversal of Roe. Antiabortion lawyers worked to get Republicans elected, and to lobby the GOP to confirm judges who would reverse Roe. But in 1992, three Republican-nominated justices voted to save Roe in Planned Parenthood v. Casey. As the movement considered what had gone wrong, its leaders suggested that abortion opponents did not have enough influence in either the federal judiciary or the Republican Party. Whatever the solution was, movement leaders argued, would have to do with campaign finance.

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ELB Book Corner: Sam Issacharoff: “Faith in Democracy”

I am pleased to welcome Sam Issacharoff to ELB Book Corner, author of the new book, Democracy Unmoored. Here’s the final of four posts:

According to most recent OECD survey data, in only 16 countries did more than half of respondents report having confidence in their governments. Turkish and Russian respondents (pre-Ukranian invasion) responded more satisfactorily than their U.S. counterparts. Were it not for Germany, Switzerland, and the Nordic belt, the democratic world would lag the bastions of illiberalism. In short: in the race for the hearts and souls of their respective nations, the autocrats are winning. 

The question of how to restore citizen investment in the project of democracy is necessarily complicated.  Unfortunately, there is no three-point program that will run back the clock on disillusionment, especially across the many international manifestations of democratic erosion.  Moreover, many of the areas for needed reform run at cross-purposes.  Nonetheless it is possible to address the prospects for democratic revival, if only in the broadest strokes.

We can begin with the basic capacity of government to get things done, an underappreciated challenge to democracies.  The decades-long initiative to extend subway service on New York City’s east side – for a distance of less than two miles – exemplifies the challenges to state capability.  Similar examples abound, the Berlin or Heathrow airports come readily to mind.  These all point to diminished government ability to build and maintain its existing infrastructure, and the basic ability to address pressing social concerns. By contrast, the rightly heralded ability of Pennsylvania to restore the I-95 bridge corridor required the bypassing of mountains of bureaucratic encrustments and bizarre permitting and requisitioning processes, a one-off workaround indicating the need for major reforms.  Further, the relative early success of nations like China and Singapore in the COVID-19 pandemic illustrates that the advantage democracy holds in delivering social solutions to its populace is tentative at best. Wisely, the campaigns of President Biden in the United States and Chancellor Scholz in Germany were anchored by a promise to revitalize government capacity to provide for its citizenry.  Much rests on the ability to deliver on these commitments.

Improving state competency frequently pushes toward removing constraints on executive authority.  However, strongman government has been the hallmark of populists’ rise in power from the United States to Hungary. Even classically parliamentary countries like Britain and Canada have witnessed concentrations of power in the chief executive. This “winner takes all” structure of a plebiscitary-style claim to executive authority frequently enables breaking through weak institutional barriers to executive abuse. There are structural fixes through federalism, independent oversight, and an empowerment of the minority party that can all foster revitalization in the legislative branch, with different advantages and weaknesses that resonate with greater authority in a country-specific context.

Economic conditions are but one source of populist agitation, and not necessarily the driving part; reassertions of national sovereignty and pride – inflamed by xenophobic agitation – are never far from the center. This anger is particularly poignant around border policies, which fan the flames of economic anxiety in terms of the exodus of jobs and of migrants taking away desirable employment.  Whether well founded or not, the sense of being displaced in one’s own country registers powerfully in the electoral arena and is a matter not easily engaged by mainstream parties.   Immigration debates have been a flashpoint in the European Union, most recently sending the Dutch government into disarray. If immigration is in part a placeholder for anger around economic dislocation, then failing to address the issue meaningfully paves the terrain for populist challenges. So far, serious policy engagement with immigration has proved the third rail of American politics.

Perhaps the greatest challenge is envisioning what democratic politics will look like in the future.  The heyday of political parties was a time when those parties actually represented constituencies, and those were defined through private institutions such as unions, churches, civic associations, and other kinds of NGOs. The US is exceptional in that the populist challenge emerged from one one of the established parties rather than from an external challenge. The American circumstance will have its own peculiar resolution, but non-state civic institutions – the media, businesses and universities – have already demonstrated a willingness to step in and stabilize in the face of a populist president. How this translates going forward, and particularly as social media supplant organizations as sources of communal identity, remains the great uncertain area of democratic disruption.

Finally, in the words of John Adams, “there can be no Republican Government, nor any real Liberty … [without] Passion for the public good … in the Minds of the people.”  Democracy Unmoored ends with glimmers of renewed faith in the value of democracy.  Populists have not had an easy run at reelection, as evidenced by Bolsonaro in Brazil and of course Trump in the U.S.  In many countries, the reaction to the Russian invasion has rekindled the perceived importance of the democratic legacy and possibly some renewed faith in the very institutions populists had aimed to squander. Even in the utter tragedy of the war on Ukraine, perhaps there is hope.

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ELB Book Corner: Sam Issacharoff: “Populism and Corruption”

I am pleased to welcome Sam Issacharoff to ELB Book Corner, author of the new book, Democracy Unmoored. Here’s the third of four posts:

My previous posts outlined how the populist challenge to institutional authority and the demand for unilateral authority in a populist leader come together to attack state institutions, most notably the election system itself.  Looked at as a form of anti-institutional governance, populism exploits many of the contemporary weaknesses of democracies.  There are many facets to this analysis.  But one unexpected twist is that I now believe that corruption turns out to play a larger role in this story than previously appreciated.

One of the novel arguments of Democracy Unmoored is that the combination of short-termism and freewheeling governance is a powerful breeding ground for outright corruption. In a recurring pattern, the fight over independent authority to investigate and prosecute corruption turns out to be a flashpoint in stemming the consolidation of executive rule.

I’ll start with a definition.  I use a much narrower definition than that present in many American debates over campaign finance. “Corruption” within the contours of this discussion is neither the perception of elite corruption galvanizing support for populism initially, nor the act of an elected government pledging and carrying through redistributive policies.

Rather, there are three forms that are the subject of inquiry. The first is the most conventional: the private capture of public resources. The second is the corruption of the electoral system itself. Finally, and likely most insidious, is an old-fashioned use of corruption as a compromise of bodily integrity, in this case a politics defined by vitriol toward others, infusing the body politic with a dialogue of the faithful against the opposition. This is the most intangible of the trio and indeed, the hardest to root out.

The narrowest definition of corruption as quid pro quo or other forms of pocketing privately what should belong to the public, is the most tractable politically. While all regimes my succumb to individual corruption, the antagonism of populist regimes to institutionalized norms fosters the use of state resources to reward and punish in a more direct and notorious way than seen in normal democratic politics. The question then becomes whether ordinary law may serve as an effective constraint against corruption and, by extension, provide a way of combatting institutional assaults.

The U.S. provides a ready example. Checks on presidential misbehavior are difficult in the face of the presidential pardon power and the centralized command structure of the Department of Justice. Impeachment requires Congress to challenge the president by abandoning political alignment in favor of institutional loyalty, a near-impossible task in our polarized era. In the words of Bob Bauer and Jack Goldsmith: “Neither party wants to open up lines of attack for the opposition.”

By contrast, a number of the legal confrontations with President Trump demonstrate how the ordinary mechanisms of criminal and administrative review can allow dozens of investigations to go forward outside the direct control of the president or attorney general. Civil lawsuits aimed at bank records and comparable evidence of misconduct, or even criminal prosecutions for well established transgressions, such as misappropriation of classified documents or obstruction of investigation, offer current examples.

Anticorruption engages a broader cross-section of the judiciary than the structurally isolated constitutional courts that dominated the post-1989 legal environment. While these regular judicial institutions may ultimately be captured, the process is more laborious than replacing the five or six justices needed to neuter a constitutional court. Further, corruption as an issue may serve to restore some respect for legal norms while not exacerbating the political divides.  At least in theory.

Yet, if democracy rests on accepting the notion of repeat play, criminal liability for acts of state risks turning the normal change of regime into an existential fight for survival for threatened incumbents.  The critical line must fall between official and unofficial conduct – or, as Daphna Renan puts it, the “president’s two bodies.” A prosecution for action that in any way resembles traditional domains of executive privilege or a policy directive would immediately succumb to the fires of modern polarization – such was the fate of the first impeachment of Donald Trump. In policing corruption, scrutiny must focus on the individual in an isolated sense, not encroaching upon the political office that must remain contested terrain. In other words: attacking misbehavior as a matter of individual transgression, not as a matter of political misdirection. 

Using the criminal law to respond to acts of governance, no matter how outrageous, risks fueling political mistrust and angry polarization. Not letting elections lie is the hallmark of autocracies, not democracies.

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ELB Book Corner: Sam Issacharoff: “The Critical Role of Political Parties”

I am pleased to welcome Sam Issacharoff to ELB Book Corner, author of the new book, Democracy Unmoored. Here’s the second of four posts:

Previously I addressed the unique vulnerability of election systems in the face of populism.  Let me shift over now to the operation of democratic politics more fundamentally.  Here the frailty of political parties and the uncentered quality of politics forms a central part of the book’s analysis of the occupies much of my attention in this book.  Simply put, political parties have been the indispensable galvanizing force for democratic politics in the great periods of democratic ascendency in the 19th and 20th centuries.  Whether in a single-victor election or a proportional parliamentary system, some form of aggregation is necessary both to draw sufficient voter attention to issues and to shape a governing coalition. Parties emerged as the institutional mechanism for translating interest and ideology into governance, and their erosion has tracked that of democracy writ large.

Certainly, there was much to party politics of the 19th and 20th centuries that does not conform to today’s conception of a democratic society. American party politics of yesteryear were dominated by backroom deals, intertwined with funds of sketchy provenance, and reinforced by handing out patronage of oftentimes scant public interest. Yet these parties successfully operated in a complex environment defined by voter preferences, the needs of governing, and the maintenance of party officials to carry the work forward. If we understand voters to be the ultimate consumers, the task of governance to be the productive activity of the party, and the party officials to be the management cohort, the party begins to resemble an economic firm such as a corporation that similarly must navigate the need to produce something that the market will value.

By analogy to Ronald Coase’s seminal 1937 work The Nature of the Firm, firms must always decide not just what to produce but also whether to produce. While the market in theory sets the price for goods and services, and the ability to buy or make should be fairly interchangeable – again, in theory – reality triumphs. Firms themselves seek to control internally that which is within their core competencies and leave to market actors secondary activities. These assessments are not stagnant. Firms are constantly revisiting the decision to make or buy based on the costs of substitution of one function for another.

Starting from V.O. Key’s framework, the political party can be seen as an uneasy amalgam of the functions of electoral engagement, popular ideology, and governance. Like an economic firm, parties can prosper if they reach an optimal measure of coordination of these inputs and deliver a final product that the market values. Viewing political parties through the logic of a firm identifies why party leadership would have a historic advantage in the battle for control of democratic politics. The mass of the party-in-the-electorate is disabled by a collective-action problem in organizing for its interests. The candidates would historically have been weak without the endorsement and organizational resources of the party. And the party-in-the-government could not govern effectively, and deliver on its campaign promises, without the party providing coherence to the legislative agenda.

In the eyes of anti-institutionalist populist leaders, a formal party platform operates as a constraint – a structure in which either the organization or the ideology could displace the maximal leader. Absent such a coordinating role, activists and funders and candidates and even elected officials have no need to harness themselves to the inevitable constraints of the party. And weakened political parties do not have the institutional fortitude to withstand the impassioned campaigns of charismatic leaders fueled by an independent donor base and a harnessed social media that reaches voters directly.

While a host of formal reforms fostered the political party’s decline, one of the most telling in the American context is the impact of campaign finance reforms. Just as the fundraising function of political parties fueled their institutional height, the post-Watergate movement to drain their coffers plays a role in their demise. Lost in the rush to restrict money in politics was the fact that the integration of access to voters, candidates, and officeholders allowed parties a controlling role in the democratic sphere. Once the party was no longer able to raise money to support its candidates on any basis distinct from any other contributor and once the interaction between party and candidate was limited by a principle of non-coordination, it no longer made sense for candidates to coordinate their campaign within the realm of the party.

But artificially limiting political funding exposed the hydraulic quality of money in politics: like water, money will seek its own level and restrictions on its flow in one direction will soon generate other outlets. Or, returning to Coasean terms: once parties’ outsized ability to capture and direct funds was hindered, there was no longer a manifest advantage to making as opposed to buying from outside vendors. The winners? The aptly termed “shadow parties,” ranging from dark money outlets to the self-sustaining campaigns of individual candidates. Indeed, as was seen with the Koch brothers in 2016, outsiders could even hold beauty pageants to shop for suitable candidates. In other words: for all of political parties’ historical backroom flaws, the hole they left was filled by more nefarious, more polarizing, and more opaque actors that lack any of the tempering effect that political parties brought to the table.

Again this pattern is repeated across the democratic world, despite vast differences in party organization and financial support.  Something is clearly going on and the root cause of party weakness is that they are no longer rooted in mass organizations or labor unions, or churches, or small business associations, or civic groups, or any of the forms of intermediary organization of days gone by. 

Marry these evolutions with the era of social media and instantaneous connection, and the broad-based parties that once served as the point of first connection with ordinary citizens have crumpled. As parties fragment, a spiral ensues. In Coasean terms, our political entrepreneurs now find it better to buy, not make. Targeting specific groups of voters, activists, and donors requires more focused and generally more extreme messages. Broad-tent parties become an impediment to a new form of politics that channels passion rather than rewarding the necessarily limited returns from governance. Instead, we are left with the rise of the individual-centered definition of politics – and the rise of anti-institutionalist figureheads eager to ride the popular tide.

I leave off here with a modest proposal to slow the demise of political parties in the American context, and one that may no doubt ring blasphemous for many readers.  I suggest that the time has come to redirect money to political parties, not away from them as the last few decades of reform have tried.  The ensuing proposal is to eliminate caps on contributions to parties (not candidates) and to trade that for a more effective disclosure regime.  We already live in a world of uncapped political contributions, only to outside shadow entities whose polarizing agenda is not put before the voters.  Seems like the worst of all worlds.

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ELB Book Corner: Sam Issacharoff: “The Institutional Foundations of Democracy”

I am pleased to welcome Sam Issacharoff to ELB Book Corner, author of the new book, Democracy Unmoored. Here’s the first of four posts:

The 2016 election of Donald Trump may have focused American attention on the rise of populism, but a more accurate lens takes a global view. Populism – and in particular, the anti-institutionalist style of governance – is ascendant across the world. Electorates around the world have proved susceptible to demagogic appeals that the traditional forms of democratic governance, and the leading role of political parties, are cabals of elites working against “the people.”

When I began turning my academic interests to the question of democratic fragility that surrounded the post-1989 emergent democracies, my primary focus was the multiple layers of institutional arrangements necessary for democratic governance, both inside government and through the layers of civil society. The efforts to stabilize newly elected government highlighted the indispensable role of institutions ranging from political parties to civil society outposts such as an independent media and universities in successful democratic rule. In particular, stable political parties have the proven ability to funnel passion into practice, blunt the edges of group animus, increase welfare protections, and compel accountability to a broader range of the society.

While my previous book, Fragile Democracies, focused on strengthening democratic governments and norms through empowered constitutional courts –I also warned that constitutional judicial review alone was not enough to protect against the rise of authoritarian regimes. Indeed, the risk of democratic fragility would apply in any context in which institutions falter.

Strikingly, the populist advance in both the new and the more stable democracies turns on an anti-institutional program of governance that mirrors the concerns that previously could be assigned to the birth pangs of new democracies.  Similar forms of politics and efforts to disrupt institutional constraints are found not only in the politics of Donald Trump and Brexit, but in Brazil, Poland, Argentina, Turkey, India, Hungary, and the list goes on. The prior focus on constitutionalism and constitutional courts is insufficient to contain illiberal regimes that can work within the frameworks of democracy.  And, as well shown by the illiberal democracies in Poland and Hungary, constitutional courts could be made and unmade as needed to facilitate executive power.  

I am honored that Rick Hasen has invited me to post on my new book, Democracy Unmoored, an examination of the common root causes that connect populist movements across the globe. The book aims not only to analyze the common roots of rising illiberalism but to underscore the need to shore up both governing institutions and intermediary organizations in order to protect the larger democratic ecosystem from being overwhelmed by a popular tide.

Let me open this first post with a subject of great concern to the readers here: the ways in which anti-institutional populism has chipped away at the most essential democratic institution itself: the ordinary administration of elections.  As much as contested elections are an article of faith in the U.S., uniquely this country held contested elections even during the Civil War and World Wars II, this country is conspicuously an outlier among democratic countries in relying not on an independent civil service-administered election process but on partisan election officials.  More precisely, the American system relies on bipartisan election oversight, a process by which representatives of the two parties watch over each other with an eye to the long-term stability of the enterprise.  On the tit-for-tat view of the world, everyone understands that what goes around comes around.  For the most part, and with a few exceptions in jurisdictions controlled by one-party exclusively, the system has worked tolerably well in yielding election results that reflect the expressed preferences of those that voted. 

But that was then.  Populists internationally believe that they are the true and only representative of the people.  No matter how autocratic their impulses, they point to their election as the source of their mandate.  This has yielded unfortunate efforts to compromise the electoral system to guarantee their tenure.  In one sense, this is but a microcosm of the greater effort to subordinate independent state institutions and the civil service, something that has now been made an express part of the Trump re-election effort.

Election administrators share with other elements of the modern administrative state a core of bureaucratic authority based on specialized expertise, certainty in command structures, continuity of institutional presence, and established forms of decision-making. Because the modern would-be autocrats claim legitimacy from the fact of having been elected, the mechanics of voting have a particular salience in bending state institutions to the populist will.  The distrust of institutions and growing polarization has led to direct assault on independent election administration.  Hundreds of bills have been introduced at the state legislature, and a troubling number passed, to increase partisan control of the counting and certification of ballots.

The attacks on American election administration echo a recurring pattern internationally, for a repeated populist goal is to subordinate any independent electoral authority. In Hungary, upon taking power in 2010, Prime Minister Orbán suspended the tenure of the Electoral Commission and forced each Commission member to be reelected by Parliament following each national election. Because Orbán’s Fidesz was the majority party in Parliament, the new Election Commission included no opposition members. In 2013, Fidesz reorganized the Commission again to place the power of nomination directly in parliamentary hands. Not surprisingly, in subsequent elections, the Commission has signed off on misinformation and false advertising campaigns, including incorrect election instructions directed at voters likely to vote for the opposition.  Poland followed suit, with the populist Law and Justice Party (Pis) claiming “monstrous irregularities in voting” as the pretext to allow Parliament to take over election administration.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have gone even further with the Citizenship Act of 2019 would have granted citizenship to undocumented religious minorities in India except Muslims (on the ground that they were not “indigenous” Indians) and a compulsory re-registration of voters that put Muslim citizens at risk of disenfranchisement. The law systematically disfavored a bloc of voters who would almost certainly vote for the opposition.  In the words of the Citizen’s Commission on Elections, the formerly independent Election Commission (and perhaps India more generally) has “morphed into an ‘unelected autocracy.’”

While the United States’ system of election oversight held up remarkably well in 2020, that is by no means a given going forward.  Certainly in the American context, fortifying impartial election administration ahead of the 2024 election is perhaps the most important short-term action for the long-term survival of the nation’s democratic system.

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ELB Book Corner: Steve Vladeck: “How the Shadow Docket Came Full Circle in the 2022 Redistricting Cases”

I am pleased to welcome to ELB Book Corner Steve Vladeck, author of the new book, The Shadow Docket. Here is the last of three posts:

After introducing Purcell and how the Court used it inconsistently in the 2020 election cycle in ways that tended to favor Republicans and disfavor Democrats, Chapter 6 of my new book on the shadow docket turns to a pair of unsigned, unexplained decisions handed down in 2022 redistricting cases—and makes the case that here, as much as in any other set of shadow docket rulings, the Supreme Court’s behavior was undermining the republic (a charge leveled in the book’s subtitle), with hard-to-defend (and undefended) rulings that may well have altered which party currently controls the House of Representatives. It’s not a charge the book makes lightly, but the evidence is … significant.

When Alabama redrew its seven US House districts following the 2020 Census, the map included only one district where Black voters would form a majority, even though 27 percent of the state’s total population in the 2020 Census identified as Black. On November 4, 2021—the same day the map was signed into law by Governor Kay Ivey—a group of plaintiffs brought suit, arguing that the state had impermissibly engaged in “vote dilution” in violation of the Voting Rights Act. The suit was assigned to a special three-judge district court that featured two Trump- appointed district judges and the Clinton-appointed Eleventh Circuit judge Stanley Marcus.

On January 24, 2022, the three judges unanimously sided with the challengers. After a seven-day hearing featuring live testimony from seventeen witnesses, the court concluded that the plaintiffs had made out their case for a violation of the Voting Rights Act under the Supreme Court’s 1986 ruling in Thornburg v. Gingles—and that Alabama should have drawn a second “majority-minority” district. Noting that there was still plenty of time for the state to try again before the map needed to be finalized for the 2022 primary and general elections (it had taken less than a week to draw the unlawful map), the court ordered Alabama to redraw its map to include a second “majority-minority” district. That district would almost certainly create a second Democratic seat within Alabama’s 6–1 Republican House delegation.

Alabama appealed the ruling (and a separate one from a single district judge), but also asked the Court to stay both injunctions pending those appeals, to allow the unlawful map to be used for the 2022 midterms. On February 7, the Court agreed. There was no majority opinion, but a concurring opinion by Justice Kavanaugh, joined by Justice Alito, rested heavily on Purcell. Now promoting the Purcell principle to “a bedrock tenet of election law” (emphasis mine), Kavanaugh wrote that, “when an election is close at hand, the rules of the road must be clear and settled.” Thus, even though the district court injunction had specifically left it to the state to redraw its map in time for the 2022 midterm cycle (and had concluded that there was plenty of time for the state to comply), Kavanaugh complained that the district court was “swoop[ing] in and re-do[ing]” Alabama’s laws “in the period close to an election.”

There’s just one problem with Kavanaugh’s Purcell analysis: It makes no sense. The district court decision (which Kavanaugh referred to as a “late-breaking injunction”) came on January 24, more than nine months before the 2022 congressional election. And even if the Alabama primary was the relevant deadline, that election wasn’t until May 24, still four months away. Moreover, the challengers in the Alabama case had filed suit on the very day that the map had been adopted—the earliest possible moment for such legal action under the Supreme Court’s own precedents. Thus, Kavanaugh’s Purcell analysis effectively suggested that there was nothing the district court could have done to stop Alabama from using an unlawful map for at least one election cycle. Like the principle of tort law that “every dog gets one free bite,” every state would get one free election cycle using unlawful district maps every ten years.

Continue reading ELB Book Corner: Steve Vladeck: “How the Shadow Docket Came Full Circle in the 2022 Redistricting Cases”
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ELB Book Corner: Steve Vladeck: “Purcell and the Partisan Valence of the Supreme Court’s 2020 Election Cases”

I am pleased to welcome to ELB Book Corner Steve Vladeck, author of the new book, The Shadow Docket. Here is the second of three posts:

ELB Book Corner

Yesterday’s post introduced the discussion of election cases in my new book on the shadow docket (out today!) by focusing on the significant and subjective ways in which the “Purcell principle” pushed courts to depart from regular equities-balancing analysis in election-related litigation as Election Day drew near. ELB’s Rick Hasen and others have written in detail about how this played out in cases throughout the 2010s, but perhaps the clearest crystallization of Purcell’s subjectivity—and how the Supreme Court’s use of it tended to favor Republicans and hurt Democrats—came in cases arising out of the 2020 election, and efforts to either change (or challenge local and state governments’ refusals to change) voting rules in response to the COVID pandemic.

It started with Wisconsin. Early in the pandemic, with COVID cases exploding across Wisconsin (and long before any vaccine was available), a federal district court in Madison ordered the state, among other things, to extend the deadline for receiving mail-in ballots for the state’s 2020 spring election, which included the 2020 presidential primaries plus contests for a seat on the Wisconsin Supreme Court, three seats on the intermediate state court of appeals, and several thousand other positions. Because of delays by the state in processing the record number of applications for mail-in ballots, and by the US Postal Service in delivering those ballots to voters, the district court held that a number of voters who had requested mail-in ballots in a timely fashion risked being disenfranchised through no fault of their own. Thus, the court ordered the state not only to extend the deadline for when mail-in ballots needed to be received (to six days after Election Day), but also to extend the mailing deadline, such that every mail-in ballot received by that date should be counted, even if they were mailed the day after the election.

The Seventh Circuit stayed part of the injunction but left the extension of both the mailing and receipt deadlines intact. The Supreme Court, in an unsigned, 5–4 ruling, put the original mailing deadline back into effect. Although the Court went out of its way to take no position on the merits (a punt made possible only by Purcell, since the merits would be one factor under “normal” stay analysis), it invoked Purcell for the proposition that “this Court has repeatedly emphasized that lower federal courts should ordinarily not alter the election rules on the eve of an election.”

But as Justice Ginsburg pointed out in her dissent on behalf of all four Democratic appointees, invoking Purcell in this context was more than a little ironic. The district court ruling extending the postmark deadline for mail-in ballots posed little risk of voter confusion, since uninformed voters would just return their ballots earlier. The Supreme Court’s own ruling was instead the one that risked creating confusion. After all, one day before the election, it was the justices themselves who had moved the postmark deadline back up to Election Day. Worse still, Ginsburg wrote, the tens of thousands of Wisconsin voters who still had not even received their mail- in ballots would now be forced to vote in person, even as COVID cases were increasing dramatically both within the state and nationwide. Under any conventional balancing of the equities, the Supreme Court should (and would) have stayed its hand. Under Purcell, it could—and did—ignore those powerful, countervailing considerations.

The inconsistency pervading the Court’s approach to Purcell was made even clearer three months later in a case arising out of Florida. In 2018, Florida voters had amended the state constitution to restore the right to vote to convicted felons who had fully served their sentences, an amendment that would re-enfranchise as many as one million voters. Florida’s Republican- controlled political branches vehemently opposed the amendment; because the population to whom it applied was overwhelmingly poor and nonwhite, the widespread assumption was that it would favor Democrats. Thus, the governor and state legislature interpreted the amendment as only applying to those released felons who had also cleared all outstanding fines, fees, and restitution, even if they could not afford to do so, or even if, as was usually the case, Florida wasn’t sure how much they even owed, because of faulty recordkeeping or a lack of clarity in the underlying judgments. When those interpretations of the felon re-enfranchisement amendment were challenged in 2019, a federal district court temporarily blocked them, holding that they were likely unconstitutional violations of due process (because many convicted felons did not and could not know how much they owed); equal protection (because they imposed a wealth barrier to voting); and the Twenty-Fourth Amendment (which prohibits poll taxes). In May 2020, the district court issued a final judgment after an eight-day trial, striking down the pay-to-vote requirements.

Continue reading ELB Book Corner: Steve Vladeck: “Purcell and the Partisan Valence of the Supreme Court’s 2020 Election Cases”
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ELB Book Corner: Steve Vladeck: “The Most Troubling Side of the Shadow Docket”

I am pleased to welcome to ELB Book Corner Steve Vladeck, author of the new book, The Shadow Docket. Here is the first of three posts:

ELB Book Corner

The subtitle of my new book on the Supreme Court’s “shadow docket,” which hits bookstores tomorrow, is deliberately provocative—promising to demonstrate “How the Supreme Court Uses Stealth Rulings to Amass Power and Undermine the Republic.” Of course, the power-amassing features of the shadow docket are neither especially contested nor especially new; as Chapter 1 of the book recounts in detail, the rise of certiorari in the early 20th century reflected a deliberate effort by the Court’s champions, including Chief Justice William Howard Taft, to strengthen the Court by giving the Justices more control over their caseload—a project in which Congress may have acquiesced, but in which the Court repeatedly went further than it had promised the legislature it would. But the claim that the Court has used unsigned, unexplained orders in recent years “to undermine the republic” requires a bit more explication and defense. That’s the focus of Chapter 6 of the book—and of this post (and two subsequent posts) about the book for Election Law Blog’s “Book Corner,” which includes edited excerpts from the book. Today’s post focuses on the rise of the “Purcell principle”; tomorrow’s looks at how the Court’s inconsistent use of Purcell in the 2020 election cycle had the remarkable tendency to benefit Republicans at the expense of Democrats. And Wednesday’s post uses the 2022 redistricting cases to demonstrate how a pair of unsigned, unexplained orders may have helped to ensure Republican control of the House in the 118th Congress.

Part I: The Purcell Problem

            Readers of ELB are likely already familiar with Purcell v. Gonzalez—and the cryptic, unsigned majority opinion in a 2006 dispute, itself on the shadow docket, about a series of Arizona voter ID requirements. In a nutshell, Arizona had asked the Court to stay an injunction pending appeal that the Ninth Circuit had issued, which would have prevented the requirements from being used in the 2006 elections).

Rather than grant a stay, the Supreme Court treated Arizona’s application as a petition for certiorari, granted it, and summarily reversed the Ninth Circuit. The unsigned and cryptic majority opinion articulated a new and infamously subjective principle. At its simplest, the principle is that, to avoid confusion among voters and election administrators, courts should generally not change the rules governing elections as Election Day approaches, meaning that injunctions against even unlawful election rules are increasingly disfavored as Election Day draws near.

Purcell is not an argument against the power of lower courts to provide remedies for unlawful election laws; rather, it’s an argument against allowing injunctions of election laws to go into effect too close to elections. Although it’s directed toward district courts, Purcell is as much a principle for appellate courts to apply, to justify stays of district court injunctions issued too closely to an election, or, as the Supreme Court held the Ninth Circuit should have in Purcell, to justify staying their hand when district courts had, as well.

At first blush, that principle seems reasonable enough: court orders— especially competing court orders— changing the rules in the run-up to Election Day can easily cause chaos, risking not just the potential disenfranchisement of confused voters, but potential headaches for election officials tasked with administering an election and tallying results under shifting legal foundations. Indeed, perhaps the best defense of Purcell is that it was an attempt by the Supreme Court to introduce rigidity into an area in which the justices believed there was too much discretion— to tightly circumscribe the power of courts as Election Day approaches.

But in the seventeen years since Purcell was handed down, numerous problems have emerged with the principle it espoused. First, on its own terms, Purcell never explained when it’s “too close” to an election for courts to intervene. In Purcell itself, the Ninth Circuit injunction came thirty-three days before the Arizona election—far enough out to seemingly abate any confusion or concern (the Supreme Court’s decision, in contrast, came just eighteen days before the election). But if thirty-three days is too close, what about forty-three? Or sixty-three? Indeed, in a 2022 ruling we’ll come back to on Tuesday, the Court appeared to rely on Purcell to block a district court injunction handed down over nine months before the election— and twelve weeks before the primary (which, unlike the general election, could have been moved if necessary). Right off the bat, then, Purcell’s seeming nod toward a bright-line rule turns on the grayest of temporal considerations—inviting the very subjective decision-making from judges that the decision claimed it was trying to eliminate.

Continue reading ELB Book Corner: Steve Vladeck: “The Most Troubling Side of the Shadow Docket”
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Steve Vladeck’s “The Shadow Docket”

I’ve just gotten an advanced copy of Steve Vladeck’s book, The Shadow Docket, out May 16, but you can preorder now. I’ve read the chapter on the Purcell Principle and it is terrific. The emergence of Supreme Court emergency rulings as a site for major lawmaking is both significant and troubling.

Steve will be doing a stint in the ELB Book Corner later this spring.

Can’t wait to read the whole thing!

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