Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Cash In: Supreme Court Strikes Down More Campaign Finance

An aggregate limit on how many candidates and committees an individual may support through contributions is not a “modest restraint” at all. The Government may no more restrict how many candidates or causes a donor may support than it may tell a newspaper how many candidates it may endorse.

2 April 2014

On Wednesday 2 April 2014, the Supreme Court issued its Opinion, written by Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, striking down the limits the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971, as amended by the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 (BCRA), places on the total dollar amount an individual may contribute to political campaigns (candidates and committees), so-called “aggregate limits”—$48,600 to candidates for federal office and $74,600 to political committees.

The decision and related filings may be found at SCOTUSblog. Audio and transcript of the Oral Argument may be found at Oyez.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

A Re-awakening: Reporting, Government & National Security

‘[A]ll of the mechanisms of accountability, all of the checking powers that exist in both political and civil society are re-awakened by transparency. And then we get to decide, collectively, where we want to draw the line.’
Barton Gellman
Sources + Secrets: A Conference on the Press,
the Government & National Security
21 March 2014

It is tempting—and commonplace—, in thinking about what we have learned about the power and scope of government surveillance, to focus on the person of Edward Snowden, only the latest and perhaps most controversial source of a vast amount of data on this issue.

Mr Snowden is not unimportant to the story, obviously. He is a story. 

There is the question of what Mr Snowden did and did not do. (Remember: Mr Snowden published nothing himself but rather made information available to media.) And, Mr Snowden has made personal choices after the publication of information he helped facilitate that perhaps complicate our assessment of him in an already complex context.

But, to focus on Mr Snowden to the exclusion of the information we now know is, I think, to miss larger (at least equal) considerations.