Progressive Reform and Progressive Politics

July 16, 2013
posted by Bob Bauer

Rick Hasen has thoughtful advice for progressives on campaign finance reform, and it can be summed up as an exhortation to live to fight another day. He counsels against misguided gestures (constitutional amendments), empty gestures (“lip service” to reform without action) and giving up altogether and moving on to other issues. Richard L. Hasen, Three Wrong Progressive Approaches (and One Right One) to Campaign Finance Reform, UC Irvine School of Law Legal Studies Research Paper Series No. 2013-117 (Forthcoming in Harvard Law & Policy Review)

There is much Hasen has offered for reflection and discussion, but there are two issues—one of diagnosis and the other of prescription—that his analysis quickly raises.

Theories of Corruption and the Separation of Powers

May 20, 2013
posted by Bob Bauer
In a policy paper just published by the Cato Institute, John Samples takes up the constitutional amendments proposed in response to Citizens United and attempts to expose their dangers. Samples, a distinguished scholar of campaign finance, has much to offer here, regardless of where a reader stands on the feasibility of these proposals. It may be true, as Samples writes, that the constitutional amendments he criticizes “provide answers to constitutional questions, not a means for courts to reconsider those questions.” John Samples, Move to Defend: The Case against the Constitutional Amendments Seeking to Overturn Citizens United (April 2013) at 9. They do provide a means for others to reconsider those questions. And, in fact, Samples’ analysis leads him to return to first principles and to ask the question: what control should we entrust to the government in matters of campaign finance, and on what theory?