Campaign finance

  • May 14, 2014
    At The New York Times, Charlie Savage discusses why the Obama administration is being accused of ignoring “statements it made to the Supreme Court about warrantless surveillance.”
    Yesterday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit granted a stay of the execution for Robert 
    James Cambell due to his intellectual disability. Mark Berman at The Washington Post reports on what “would have been the eighth execution in Texas and the 21st execution in the country so far this year.”
    The Court of Justice of the European Union issued a ruling yesterday that experts say “could force Google and other search engines to delete references to old debts, long-ago arrests and other unflattering episodes.” The Associated Press addresses the implications of the court’s decision.
    Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee is calling for the impeachment of Arkansas Judge Christopher Piazza who struck down the gay marriage ban that Gov. Huckabee signed into law 17 years ago. Mario Trujillo at The Hill has the story.
    Writing for The Daily Beast, Daniel I. Weiner discusses “the worst campaign finance ruling” since Citizens United
  • May 13, 2014
    In an op-ed for The Boston Globe Harvard Law Professors Charles Fried and Laurence H. Tribe discuss why the concerns raised by some over the nomination of David Barron to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit do not  “justif[y] delaying a vote, or denying Barron a seat on the First Circuit.”
    At Just Security, David Cole notes “why civil libertarians and drone critics should support David Barron.”
    Fred Wertheimer at Democracy 21 explains why, when it comes to campaign finance, “one day, there will be a new majority on the Supreme Court that reflects the views about ‘corruption,’ contribution limits and corporate spending in elections, held by the Supreme Court for decades until 2010.”
    Douglas Laycock at Balkinization discusses why the Supreme Court’s decision in Town of Greece v. Galloway “was no surprise…but [still] deeply disappointing.”
    “What is it like to visit your mom in prison on Mother’s Day?” Katie Rose Quandt at MotherJones addresses the realities surrounding the “1 in 28 children in the US [who] have a parent behind bars.”
  • May 5, 2014

    The effects of McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission are being felt in elections across the country. Writing for the Brennan Center for Justice, Ian Vandewalker discusses how the Republican primary in Florida’s 19th congressional district “illustrates how individual wealth can be an avenue to a seat in Congress — a body in which millionaires now have a majority.”
    As calls for the retirement of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg persist, the justice remains steadfast in her decision to continue her “pathmarking” career. Jess Bravin at The Wall Street Journal  discusses Ginsburg’s tenure on the court and a life representing both “historic significance and present-day power.”
    Writing for The New York Times, ACS Board Member Linda Greenhouse addresses Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action and why “the decision stopped short of a direct hit on affirmative action.”
    Jennifer Bard at Prawfsblawg notes Senator Elizabeth Warren’s A Fighting Chance and why “student loan reform is necessary but not sufficient to developing a legal education that better prepares our students for the important role they will play in society.”
    Robert Tsai at Concurring Opinions proposes “the creation of a new national office dedicated to the protection of civil and human rights.” 
  • April 28, 2014

    by Jeremy Leaming

    U.S. District Court Judge Paul A. Crotty had no choice – he was bound by recent Supreme Court precedent to strike some New York campaign spending limits. As The New York Times’ David Firestone noted, Judge Crotty’s 5-page opinion and order provided “about as clear-eyed description of the corruption now permeating the political system as anyone has written.”

    Judge Crotty took to task the Supreme Court’s opinions in Citizens United v. FEC and this year’s McCutcheon v. FEC, both of which have only made it easier for the wealthy to control the nation’s elections. (And many have argued that the wealthy have never needed such help. A recent study by Martin Gilens and Benjamin I. Page for Princeton found that “economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while mass-based interest groups and average citizens have little or no independent influence.”)

    In his April 24 opinion and order, Judge Crotty nevertheless had to invalidate some modest limits on spending by independent groups, in this case a group called the New York Progress Protection Pac, which spent heavily in support of Republican Joseph Lhota’s New York City mayoral race. In the process, however, Crotty blasted the Supreme Court’s majority opinions in Citizens United and McCutcheon.

    “In effect” Crotty wrote, “it is only direct bribery – not influence – that the [Supreme] Court views as crossing the line into quid pro quo corruption.” Crotty noted that he believes Justice Stephen Breyer who lodged a dissent in McCutcheon got it right, but that his hands were tied because of the majority opinions in McCutcheon and Citizens United.

    He “who pays the piper calls the tune,” Crotty wrote. “Indeed, today’s reality is that the voices of ‘we the people’ are too often drowned out by the few who have great resources. In today’s never-ending cycle of campaigning and lobbying; lobbying and campaigning, elected officials know where there money is coming from and that it must keep coming if they are to stay in office. Ordinary citizens recognize this; they know what is going on; they know they are not being included. It breeds cynicism and distrust.”

    See Crotty’s full opinion here.

    But beyond evolving Supreme Court precedent that advances interests of the wealthy, Professor Nicholas Carnes writing for TPM Cafe says we also must realize who is crafting policy in Washington -- primarily millionaires.

    “My research suggests,” Carnes writes, “that we have a government for the privileged in the United States in part because we have government by the privileged.” Carnes research shows how rare it is for voters to be able to support candidates from the middle-or-working classes. Typically the voter has a narrow choice, “Do you want to vote for a millionaire lawyer or a millionaire business owner?”

  • April 25, 2014

    On Monday, the Supreme Court “declined to review an executive order issued by Florida Governor Rick Scott that had required all state employees take random drug tests,” leaving in place a decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit that Gov. Scott’s order was too broad.
    Shalini Goel Agarwal of the American Civil Liberties Union, who represents the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees in the litigation, stated that “without a threat to public safety or a suspicion of drug use, people can't be required to sacrifice their constitutional rights in order to serve the people of Florida.” Lawrence Hurley at Reuters has the story.
    On Tuesday, the high court heard oral argument for a case involving “a request from television broadcasters to shut down Aereo, an Internet start-up they say threatens the economic viability of their businesses.” Adam Liptak at The New York Times breaks down American Broadcasting Companies, Inc. v. Aereo, Inc.
    Writing for The Daily Beast, Michael Waldman explains why, when it comes to “executive actions to improve our democracy” President Obama “should go further on voting and transparency to make government work better.”
    TPM’s Sahil Kapur notes “the Supreme Court's unprecedented public clash over race.”