“Money Talks”

Glenn Altschuler reviews Plutocrats United at Huff Post Books:

In Plutocrats United, Richard Hasen, a professor of law and political science at the University of California, Irvine and the author of The Voting Wars: From Florida 2000 to the Next Election Meltdown, provides a careful and compelling analysis of the role of money in American politics and proposes a legal strategy to reform campaign financing to give all Americans a meaningful opportunity to participate in elections and protect First Amendment rights to free speech and freedom of the press, without allowing the wealthy (and non-human entities, including corporations) to exercise undue influence.

Hasen maintains that debates over campaign finance limits should not turn on whether or not they will reduce corruption. Access, he acknowledges, may be a legitimate expectation of donors to a candidate’s campaign – and evidence of outright bribery is scarce. A better approach would cite “political equality as an interest in its own right.” Since the Supreme Court called for “one man, one vote” in Reynolds v. Sims (1964) and struck down the poll tax in Harper v. Virginia State Board of Elections (1966), Hasen points out, it has recognized that voting rules should give equal political power to all citizens. The Court has not yet held that each voter has a constitutional right to equal influence (through the electoral process) in having his or her preferred policies enacted into law, but Hasen believes it could and should do so to limit the likelihood that disparities in resources will be turned into disparities in political influence.

 

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