Looking Back (Again) on Citizens United

March 20, 2015
posted by Bob Bauer
Lawrence Tribe and Floyd Abrams have each spoken or written recently about Citizens United, and their views, while not the same, suggest a continuing movement toward appraisals that are balanced between full embrace and outright condemnation. And, as Professor Tribe suggests, a measured judgment of the Court’ performance in that case helps with the re-orientation of the campaign finance debate that is long overdue.

Political Reform and Varieties of Libertarianism

February 14, 2014
posted by Bob Bauer
In the coming campaigns, in 2014 and beyond, political reform is certain to be a topic for discussion. The press will look for a clear statement of the candidate’s positions; the Supreme Court will decide at least one more case that will excite comment and lead to proposals; and certain other prominent issues, such as income inequality and government performance, lead naturally to arguments about campaign finance and lobbying reform. We can imagine, too, that the candidates in addressing these issues will sort out as they most always do—Democrats supporting reform that Republicans find objectionable, with the divide displayed sharply in competing depictions of the soundness and effects of Citizens United.

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?