Mr. McCutcheon—and the Parties—Before the Court

October 9, 2013
posted by Bob Bauer
The Justices yesterday pondered and puzzled over various hypotheticals about how large donations can flood into the political system. All advocates were highly able and performed well, but the discussion never came to a clear agreement about what the law would allow, or when its proper enforcement would require the Federal Election Commission to challenge underhanded activity. There was uncertainty about contribution limits and the various uses of the terms "transfers" and "contributions"; disagreement about how far the earmarking rules reached; distinctions blurred between "hard" and "soft" money; and differences over which schemes for evading the limits could be considered "realistic" predictions of political behavior. Justice Breyer offered one hypothetical and a view of the legal implications, then conceded he or his law clerk might have it wrong and would have to review the rules again.
Category: The Supreme Court

Theories of Speech and Policy Preference

July 1, 2013
posted by Bob Bauer
When Senator McConnell recently and aggressively needled Norm Ornstein at an AEI event, the coverage first settled on the jibe, and then, a little later, on the Senator’s denial that his position skeptical of campaign finance disclosure had changed for 25 years. All interesting or entertaining enough, but the Senator said more about his objections to campaign finance regulation—all government involvement in campaign finance, including disclosure and public financing—and it is well worth close attention.