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Clinton and Campaign Finance

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I have some thoughts at the Guardian on Hillary Clinton’s call for a constitutional amendment for campaign finance. The amendment itself is a non-starter, but having Clinton replace Scalia and/or Kennedy would help enormously in the long run.

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  • rea

    having Clinton replace Scalia and/or Kennedy would help enormously in the long run

    Well, yes, but I think she’s running for president, instead.

    • Joe_JP

      she’s a bit old actually … speaking in the long run

    • EliHawk

      Actually, she’s 67. So only 11 and 12 years younger than them. Having, say, Amy Klobuchar or Chris Murphy replace Scalia or Kennedy would work much better.

      • rea

        Or, my favorite possibility, Obama. There is even a precedent.

        • EliHawk

          The only precedent is Chief Justice, and it came at a time when the post-Presidency isn’t the big honking deal it is in a post-Carter/Clinton world. No way that happens. Even if Roberts had some massive stroke in February 2017, nobody wants the kind of confirmation hearings nominating an ex-POTUS would bring. There hasn’t been a politician nominated directly to the court since Earl Warren.

          • Phil Perspective

            Even if Roberts had some massive stroke in February 2017, nobody wants the kind of confirmation hearings nominating an ex-POTUS would bring.

            You forget one thing. He’s also a former Senator. So that changes the equation big time. Obama would get confirmed, if he wanted it, easily. Have you seen Yurtle the Turtle start any Benghazi commissions in the Senate yet?

        • Andrew

          On the minus side, I don’t like Obama’s interpretations of executive power, drone assassinations, or NSA wiretapping.

          On the plus side, I would relish the never-ending shrieks of rage from the tea party crowd like a fine cognac.

          • matt w

            This captures the pros and cons exactly. (Well, and I think Obama might be good on issues not related to executive power and the security state.)

            • humanoid.panda

              I’d even suspect that as a justice, Obama will be much better on these issue than as POTUS. Position makes the person..

              • rea

                Earl Warren, after all, was famous as a ruthless prosecutor before being nominated.

              • Gregor Sansa

                I’d suspect the same thing. But I wouldn’t wager my country on it.

          • ExpatChad

            On the plus side, I would relish the never-ending shrieks of rage from the tea party crowd like a fine cognac.

            !!!1!

          • joe from Lowell

            Heh. Yummy yummy.

            Obama has been adopting those positions as chief executive. It’s his job to advocate for the executive-authority side when he’s in that post, like a lawyer in a civil suit arguing for his client’s interest rather than for a down-the-middle decision.

            Which is to say, I don’t think you can assume the positions he’d take on the bench would be the same as those he takes in the White House.

          • Joe_JP

            Not sure how he will rule on these but also doubtful they will come up much if at all anyhow. So-called drone “assassinations,” e.g., aren’t likely to lead to cases that reach the USSC for oral argument. Also, unclear how different his views on them are from some on the left of the Court anyhow.

  • Todd

    It would be nice if the level of debate (and the debates!) in these primaries would allow/require/encourage candidates to speak at length about what they would do in regards to the judiciary. It usually just revolves around one or two specific issues (abortion, guns), or some vague promise to promote judges who enforce the Constitution blah blah blah.

    Someone with Clinton’s long legal experience could probably give a very detailed answer about what she would look for in a judge, who some of the judges she has or currently does admire, and where she thinks the courts have erred. (Obama was strong in calling the courts to task for rulings he thought were wrong, even during the campaign).

    • Srsly Dad Y

      Never happen.

  • Pat

    Perhaps one day soon Scalia will start to wander off when he’s supposed to be in chambers, and we can all acknowledge that his memory just isn’t what it used to be.

  • Joe_JP

    Yes, I agree with Rick Hasen that trying to use the amendment approach here is misguided (and not the only way to do something), but the general conversation (she is rather vague) can help in the long run. Generally, just finished Zephyr Teachout’s book on corruption & it was interesting reading. History shouldn’t just be left to the conservatives.

    • timb

      In the end, to reach the goals of equitable elections, the only two solutions are overturning Buckley (which SCOTUS will not do) or an Amendment. Our elections need to be publicly financed with TV time for ads given to campaigns as part of licensing, rather than purchased.

      So, no, a call for an Amendment in the short term is not likely to succeed, but only an Amendment can carve out the exception to money does not equal mass marketed speech that we need.

      I could go on and on about how campaign money is why the senate doesn’t work, why inequality is so vast, why the country looks more and more like the fading days of the Roman Republic, etc, but, in the end, the long-term solution is an Amendment

      • Joe_JP

        Our elections need to be publicly financed with TV time for ads given to campaigns as part of licensing, rather than purchased.

        Public finance is one thing that can be done w/o an amendment except to that extent that is mandated across the board.

        only an Amendment can carve out the exception to money does not equal mass marketed speech that we need.

        money is always going to be needed for speech and some people will have more of it than others; an amendment can limit the effects up to a point though any likely to pass will be probably some vague business with loopholes … it also will likely be something that gives Congress power to do something, so we would be back to legislation

        • timb

          Legislation that would struck down under Buckley?

          It’s not that we necessarily disagree, Joe. It’s just that I see this as the most political issue of the day, which has little constituency among the elite and thus needs a grass roots movement

          • Joe_JP

            There is some public finance legislation passed after Buckley that was not struck down though the rules now are stricter so more can be.

            An amendment would help there though it would depend on the text and what there is will to pass. This would go back to your grassroots point, which is sound. If there was enough pressure, e.g., the two main parties would have voluntary rules in place here just as the Democrats were forced to equalize political conventions racially and sexually by grass roots movement.

            The Court is a problem here in tying the hands of the people to some extent but only so much. At some point, it is a matter of not enough grass roots pressure though the system is set up that it is harder for even a majority to win out there.

  • keta

    Good piece, Scott, and your ultimate para is exactly why it’s crucial the Dems retain the White House.

  • tsam

    Ummmm, maybe you didn’t hear, but corporations are people, my friend.

    • I’m pretty sure Mittens meant to say “Corporations are my friends, people.”

      • Lee Rudolph

        You mispunctuated “Corporations are my friends. People?”

        • “Corporations are. My friends? People.”

          • Gregor Sansa

            Corporations, are my friends people?

  • Murc

    Always worth noting: Notorious RBG is not only turning eighty, she’d be an eighty year old cancer survivor. The actuarial odds of her making it to 2020 are not encouraging.

    A Republican victory in 2016 almost certainly means the destruction of Roe, the final gutting of the Civil Rights Act, and even with a Democratic filibuster in the Senate a renewed judicial challenge to the ACA that puts it in the ground as well. Gay marriage at a national level stalls out for another couple decades as well, most likely, as a reactionary majority and their equally reactionary replacements probably don’t go after it where it already exists (but you never know!) but refrain from imposing it by judicial fiat on our most Talibangelical states. (Which I think we all know will, ultimately, be necessary.)

    • Grumpy

      RBG turned 82 on March 15, 2015.

    • Andrew

      RBG might figure staying on the court will help HRC in the election.

      • I think she wants her replacement to be the first SCOTUS appointment made by a female president.

        • Barry Freed

          Not a Hilary fan at all but I just love this thought.

      • Grumpy

        How?

        • djw

          I presume the premise is that by not stepping down and being replaced by a Democrat with a solid 30+ years to go on the actuarial charts, she raises the stakes for the election for the subset of Democratic voters, motivating turnout. (For some reason, a good portion of the ‘not a dime’s worth of difference’ crowd seems to make a Supreme Court exception to their delusion.)

          It’s not a particularly plausible theory, as it imputes far too much specific knowledge and strategy to voters. Anyone paying enough attention to understand the theory was almost certainly going to vote anyway.

          • Pat

            I think RBG plans to leave the Supreme Court in a hearse. She likely keeps living because she is able to continue to fight for the principles she believes in.

            Not everyone is good at quitting.

    • TrexPushups

      and nightmares we can’t even imagine yet as the decades roll out. Oh and absolutely no chance we address climate change.

      • Pat

        I don’t think that climate change is a good issue for Democrats to campaign on. Govern, yes.

    • Joe_JP

      If a Republican wins in 2016 with a Republican Congress (at best a divided one with the balance in the hands of conservative Dems), RBG not staying on the Court to 2020 probably will be the least of our problems. Having a younger replacement of her (or even Breyer) also will at best provide nice quotable dissents as the majority (helped by some younger Scalia or more conservative Kennedy) rule on things.

      So “quitting” or resigning now (or last year) is/was of limited value.

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