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Money, Politics, and the Constitution: Beyond Citizens United [Paperback]

Monica Youn

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Book Description

May 9 2011

"A brilliant collection of essays on one of the most important contemporary constitutional issues: when can and should the government be able to regulate campaign spending? Each essay offers original insights, and together they are a superb examination of the intersection of politics and constitutional law. If there is to be a new jurisprudence in this area, this book is likely its foundation." - Erwin Chemerinsky, founding dean, School of Law, University of California-Irvine

In the U.S. Supreme Court case Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, five justices ruled that corporations and unions had a constitutional right to spend unlimited sums in elections. In so doing, they overturned decades of precedent and dozens of laws. The ruling earned banner headlines, a sharp State of the Union rebuke, and public disapproval hovering near 80 percent in the polls. In the 2010 election that followed, independent spending spiked, much of it done secretly. The decision ranks among the Court's most controversial and consequential.

This volume is an attempt to map out the complex labyrinth that led to Citizens United and to explore where this decision may lead. The chapters in it arose from a symposium sponsored by NYU's Brennan Center for Justice just nine weeks after the Citizens United decision was announced.


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About the Author

Monica Youn is senior counsel at the Brennan Center for Justice and will be the Brennan Center's inaugural Constitutional Fellow at NYU School of Law. Most recently, she led a team of attorneys in a high-stakes case defending Arizona's public campaign financing law before the U.S. Supreme Court. Her recent collection of poetry, Ignatz, was nominated for a 2010 National Book Award.


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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous collection of the very best articles & insights Nov. 25 2011
By Melanie Kiser - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book surveys a broad and diverse range of scholarly perspectives and insights on campaign finance law and includes several of my very favorite law review articles.

Most notably, "On Political Corruption" by Samuel Issacharoff offers an absolutely brilliant analysis of the interest in preventing corruption. He corrects the common tendency to think about corruption of individual representatives or of elections and introduces a theory based on the more systemic corruption of our government structure-- CLIENTELISM.

Monica Youn also helps to make sense of precedent under different courts by identifying two different conceptions of free speech in this context, derived from the two most common views of the policies behind the First Amendment. The "volitional" view, based on autonomy of the speaker, creates or recognizes a (content-neutral) hierarchy of value among different categories of political spending/contributing based on how directly it relates to the expressive intention of the speaker. For example, contributions are regarded as relatively low-value speech by proxy because the contributor is not really shaping the message that the money will be used for, and the Buckley court didn't think the quantity of communication from the contributor really correlated or increased with the amount of money given (at most the dollar total may give a rough index of support). That's why contributions can be limited. Alternatively, under the "commodity" view treats any given dollar of political spending as having the same value as any other dollar of political spending, regardless of any nexus to expressive intention of a speaker.

It's unfortunate that this book does not really show up through the search function on Amazon.com (I had to Google for Brennan Center books, get the title off the Brennan Center website and then plug that title back into Google to find the Amazon product page) because I suspect it is among the best books out there on the LEGAL 1st Amendment issues related to campaign finance reform.

If you're looking for a more policy-oriented or popular-audience-appropriate book on campaign finance and/or money in politics, you absolutely cannot do better than "Republic, Lost" by Lawrence Lessig. That book primarily identifies problems that existed long before Citizens United (and were just exacerbated by it) and which can be solved within the current laissez-faire doctrine (and even the court behind Arizona Free Enterprise v. Bennett would struggle to find a constitutional problem with his primary proposal, the Fair EL

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