Forms of Influence and the Best Bet

March 11, 2014
posted by Bob Bauer
Richard Epstein has written about Citizens United before, and he returns to the subject again in his magisterial treatise on the classical liberal conception of the Constitution. His argument includes a challenge to widely held beliefs about corporate political power and motivation . The Classical Liberal Constitution: The Uncertain Quest for Limited Government (2014) at 458; see also Richard A. Epstein, Citizens United v. FEC: The Constitutional Right that Big Corporations Should Have But Do Not Want,  34 Harv. J.L. & Pub. Pol'y 639, 655-660 (2011). He does not suggest that the regulation of government corruption is at all times unfounded or ill-advised, only that it is misdirected to the sphere of public political speech. The analysis he offers usefully raises again the question: is the debate about political reform overly invested in political campaign activity, while attention is paid intermittently and with little impact to other ways that well-financed interests move policy?  These are questions that have been productively raised by other scholars in the field, notably Sam Issacharoff and Rick Pildes.