Daily Media Links 5/2: NY Times: Lawrence Lessig Starts a Super PAC, Politico: States are now targets of ‘Citizens United,’ SCOTUSBlog: From the bench to the podium, and more…


Group urges District of Columbia to implement Supreme Court decision in contribution limits case.

Alexandria, Va. — A First Amendment advocacy group today urged the mayor, Attorney General, and other District of Columbia officials to repeal the District’s aggregate campaign contribution limit law and halt its enforcement because the law is likely unconstitutional following the Supreme Court’s ruling early last month in the case McCutcheon v. FEC.

A letter sent by David Keating, President of the Center for Competitive Politics (CCP), urges district officials “to take quick action to respond to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in McCutcheon v. FEC, in order to ensure that D.C. does not continue to violate its citizens’ First Amendment rights.” The letter says the District of Columbia has a law that is “essentially identical” to the federal law that was declared unconstitutional. 

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Independent Groups


NY Times: Lawrence Lessig Starts a Super PAC

By Derek Willis

“Embrace the irony,” he says of the fact that he needs one in order to kill them.

Mr. Lessig wants to first raise $1 million in 30 days and then an additional $5 million. He said it would be “built first from small-dollar contributions.” If either goal is met, Mr. Lessig says that he will ensure that the amounts will be matched, presumedly from rich donors.

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Politico: States are now targets of ‘Citizens United’

By Byron Tau

A Democratic group with ties to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has been quietly working to enforce the controversial Citizens United decision at the state level.  

General Majority PAC, created last year by longtime Reid Senate chief of staff Susan McCue, has won legal challenges in New Jersey and Pennsylvania over the past year to enforce the Supreme Court ruling permitting unlimited corporate and union spending.  

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More Soft Money Hard Law: Justice Stevens Before the Senate, on Behalf of a Constitutional Amendment

By Bob Bauer

In one sense, the amendment he has written condemns campaign finance regulation to a repetition of the past.  Congress would be empowered to impose limits—“reasonable” limits—on campaign spending. But what in light of the same nagging controversies and divisions is reasonable, and how does he resolve the conflict between legislatures and courts, when the Justices will be back in the game as referees of “reasonableness”?  The constitutional amendment the Justice is promoting leaves open all the standing questions and attempts in lieu of answering them to force a resolution, or the appearance of one.

When asked on a previous occasion whether a specific congressional action would be “reasonable” under the terms of the amendment, he answered with a “might” and a “perhaps,” after he “stared at the text … for a little while.”  This is the problem: a fixed gaze on the text will not yield an answer, and the argument will resume as it has been going on for years.

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SCOTUSBlog: From the bench to the podium

By Lyle Denniston

His prepared testimony before the Senate panel was distributed for him by the Court’s staff.  He no doubt had at least some help with it from a government-salaried law clerk.  And they very likely did some work on it in the judicial chambers he still occupies.  The remarks are clearly his own, but they have the patina of the high judicial office he held for nearly thirty-five years.

He crossed the street to become a part of a legislative hearing, dealing not with a safe topic such as the need to preserve judicial independence or a review of the Court’s annual budget, but rather focusing on a truly divisive policy issue that itself contributes importantly to continuing partisan division.

He opened his remarks by insisting that “campaign finance is not a partisan issue.”  But his proposal for the language of a constitutional amendment would overturn Court rulings that the Republican Party definitely has found do work to its advantage and the Democratic Party to its woe. (Note: “Democratic Party to its woe?”)

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Roll Call: Chamber of Commerce Spends $1.2 Million on Independent Expenditures

By Kent Cooper

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce reported late this afternoon that it spent $1.2 million Wednesday for independent expenditures for the 2014 elections.  

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WSJ: Advocates Call on FCC to Enforce Disclosure Rules for Political TV Ads

By Brody Mullins

Open-government advocates are pressuring regulators to make it easier to find out who exactly is behind many of the television advertisements that run in election years.  

Two public interest groups have filed a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission to enforce a rule that requires the TV stations to disclose online the names of buyers  of the political ads and other information about the ads.  

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Candidates, Politicians, Campaigns, and Parties

Washington Times: Sen. King laments ‘explosion of outside money’ after court’s campaign finance rulings

By David Sherfinski

“I don’t think we should have $250,000 checks written to candidates, but if the choice is ‘dark’ versus ‘disclose,’ I think that’s better,” he said. “I mean, look, in Maine, you can’t go to a Maine town meeting with a bag over your head. If you’re going to state your opinions and state your views, you gotta come up and say who you are. I just think that’s a fundamental part of our democracy.” 

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Note:  If there are really $250,000 undisclosed checks written to federal candidates as is being suggested, the good Senator should report this to authorities immediately.


Lobbying and Ethics

Wheeling News-Register: Coddling Crooked Government Officials

It is a pattern under both Democrat and Republican administrations. Get caught breaking the law and you may be forced to resign. There will be no other punishment.  

No wonder wrongdoing in government is so frequent and outrageous. Yet no one seems willing to do anything about it.

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The Center for Competitive Politics is now the Institute for Free Speech.