My Written Testimony begins:
Thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today to speak about a matter that is among the greatest concerns I have had in twenty-five years of researching and teaching about American election law and campaign finance issues: the potential for continued illegal foreign interference in United States elections and a United States president’s unprecedented and illa-dvised encouragement of foreign governments to meddle in our elections.
From founding fathers George Washington1 and Alexander Hamilton2 to former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens3 and current Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, America leaders have recognized that hostile foreign nations—with, as Justice Stevens put it, “no basic investment in the well-being of the country”—may attempt to interfere in American elections in order to manipulate an election’s outcome or to curry favor with the winner.
As Justice Kavanaugh wrote in the 2011 case, Bluman v. Federal Election Commission, “It is fundamental to the definition of our national political community that foreign citizens do not have a constitutional right to participate in, and thus may be excluded from, activities of democratic self-government. It follows, therefore, that the United States has a compelling interest for purposes of First Amendment analysis in limiting the participation of foreign citizens in activities of American democratic self-government, and in thereby preventing foreign influence over the U.S. political process.” In Bluman, then-D.C. Circuit Court Judge Kavanaugh’s opinion for a unanimous three-judge district court upheld the federal ban on foreign contributions and expenditures in American elections. The Supreme Court thought this conclusion was so self-evident that it summarily affirmed the ruling without even scheduling oral argument and issuing its own opinion.
Indeed, until President Trump came along, there was broad bipartisan consensus that foreign interference in American elections undermines the idea that “we the people,” and not outsiders—and especially not outsiders from foreign governments with interests adverse to the United States—get to choose American leaders and make the case to our fellow citizens as to who deserves to be elected and why.