by Justin Levitt. Professor Levitt, on loan from Loyola Law School, Los Angeles, is a visiting associate professor of law at Yale Law School. He focuses on constitutional law and the law of the political process.
Photographs purport to show objective facts. But whether they illuminate or distort our understanding of the world depends entirely on choices — of lens, of frame — that the photographer has made.
Much of constitutional law is the same: the choice of lens and frame drives the Supreme Court’s understanding of our rights and obligations. Without recognizing this truth, it is virtually impossible to understand the Court’s campaign finance jurisprudence.
McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission offers a dizzying fight over lens and frame. The briefs presented to the Court zoom from micro to macro and back, often within sentences of the same brief.