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Campaign Finance and Free Speech - Event Audio/Video

2017 National Student Symposium
Bradley A. Smith, Richard Pildes, John O. McGinnis, Ciara Torres-Spelliscy, Richard Sullivan March 15, 2017

Congress' passage of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 did not end the debate on campaign finance. Instead, it arguably created more legal questions than it did answers. 

The Act's passage quickly unleashed subsequent litigation, resulting in a number of Supreme Court decisions directly related to the BCRA and, more broadly, to general laws regulating campaign finance. These recent Supreme Court cases, including the much-discussed Citizens United decision, struck down many campaign regulations on the grounds that they infringe upon individuals' First Amendment rights. Some have charged that decisions like these have increased the influence of a privileged few in our political system. Others have argued that these decisions are not only doctrinally correct, but the prudential fears many have expressed have not been borne out.

Still, Americans remain discontented with the current campaign finance regime. According to a New York Times/CBS News poll in 2015, 46% of respondents agree that the country needs to completely rebuild its campaign finance system, while 39% believed it requires fundamental change. Today, groups and individuals continue to fight limits on political contributions, and restrictions on political speech, while others push for stricter regulations. 

This panel will weigh in on whether decisions like Citizens United are correct as a matter of law, and if they are desirable from a policy perspective. The panel will also discuss the jurisprudential foundations of Citizens United—including the landmark case of Buckley v. Valeo—and where future fights over campaign finance regulations are likely to occur.

This panel was presented at the 2017 National Student Symposium on Saturday, March 4, 2017, at Columbia Law School in New York City, New York.

Panel 2: Campaign Finance and Free Speech
9:30 a.m. -11:00 a.m.
Jerome Greene Hall 104

  • Prof. Brad Smith, Josiah H. Blackmore II/Shirley M. Nault Professor of Law, Capital University Law School; Former FEC Commissioner
  • Prof. Richard Pildes, Sudler Family Professor of Constitutional Law, New York University School of Law
  • Prof. John O. McGinnis, George C. Dix Professor in Constitutional Law, Northwestern University School of Law
  • Prof. Ciara Torres-Spelliscy, Fellow, Brennan Center for Justice; Associate Professor of Law, Stetson University College of Law
  • Moderator: Hon. Richard J. Sullivan, U.S. District Judge for the Southern District of New York

Columbia Law School
New York, New York

Supreme Court Rules on Honest-Services Fraud: Robert F. McDonnell v. United States - Podcast

Criminal Law & Procedure and Free Speech & Election Law Practice Groups Podcast
Randall D. Eliason, William J. Haun, Stephen R. Klein, Tara Malloy June 29, 2016

On June 27, 2016, the United States Supreme Court issued a unanimous opinion in Robert F. McDonnell v. United States. The Court vacated the public corruption convictions of former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell, finding that the prosecution failed to properly instruct the jury on the definition of an “official action” as used in the federal bribery statute, Hobbs Act, and honest-services fraud statute. However, the Court rejected McDonnell's claims that the honest services statute and Hobbs Act are unconstitutional, and left the Court of Appeals to reconsider whether McDonnell had committed an "official act" under the Court's new definition. Our experts discussed the impact of the opinion, and debated its merits, as it relates to public corruption law and the criminal law more generally, as well as to the First Amendment and campaign finance law.

Featuring:

  • Prof. Randall D. Eliason, George Washington University Law School
  • William J. Haun, Associate, Hunton & Williams LLP
  • Stephen R. Klein, Attorney, Pillar of Law Institute
  • Tara Malloy, Deputy Executive Director, Campaign Legal Center

Supreme Court to Consider Honest-Services Fraud: Oral Arguments Heard in Robert F. McDonnell v. United States - Podcast

Criminal Law & Procedure and Free Speech & Election Law Practice Groups Podcast
William J. Haun, Stephen R. Klein April 27, 2016

On Wednesday, April 27, the United States Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Robert F. McDonnell v. United States. The Court will review the public corruption convictions of former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell to determine whether the definition of “official action” as used in the federal bribery statute, Hobbs Act, and honest-services fraud statute is limited to exercising actual governmental power or the threat or pressure to do so. If the definition is not so limited, the Court will also consider whether the Hobbs Act and honest-services fraud statute are unconstitutional—given that such a broad definition could include political activity protected by the First Amendment. Our experts attended the oral arguments and offered a summary and analysis to Federalist Society members.

Featuring:

  • William J. Haun, Associate, Hunton & Williams LLP
  • Stephen R. Klein, Attorney, Pillar of Law Institute

Free Speech, Anti-Corruption, and the Criminalization of Government Affairs - Event Audio/Video

2015 National Lawyers Convention
Todd P. Graves, Edward T. Kang, Eugene Volokh, Peter R. Zeidenberg, Raymond W. Gruender, John G. Malcolm November 18, 2015

If we accept the premise that government, and government power, is growing, then the stakes for elective office have never been higher. With the levers of power at stake, are we seeing an increase in the use of the criminal justice system to attack legitimate political activity? Or are we perhaps seeing the proper policing of increased fraud and abuse by those in the political sphere? In a media climate in which a mere investigation can be fatal to a political campaign or career, what actions are political and what actions are criminal, and who should decide?

Criminal Law: Free Speech, Anti-Corruption, and the Criminalization of Government Affairs
12:00 noon – 2:15 p.m.
State Room

  • Mr. Todd P. Graves, Partner, Graves Garrett LLC
  • Mr. Edward T. Kang, Partner, Alston & Bird LLP
  • Prof. Eugene Volokh, Gary T. Schwartz Professor of Law, UCLA School of Law
  • Mr. Peter R. Zeidenberg, Partner, Arent Fox LLP
  • Moderator: Hon. Raymond W. Gruender, U.S. Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit
  • Introduction: Mr. John G. Malcolm, Director, Edwin Meese III Center for Legal and Judicial Studies, and Ed Gilbertson and Sherry Lindberg Gilbertson Senior Legal Fellow, The Heritage Foundation

The Mayflower Hotel
Washington, DC

Crime and Politics: Wisconsin Supreme Court Rules in "John Doe" Investigation - Podcast

Criminal Law & Procedure Practice Group Podcast
Allen Dickerson, Edward D. Greim, Tara Malloy, Jason Torchinsky July 24, 2015

On Thursday July 16, 2015, the Wisconsin Supreme Court issued an opinion and order ending the long running “John Doe” investigation into potential violations of Wisconsin campaign finance law and whether candidates and outside groups illegally “coordinated” spending. In mid-June of 2015, a young political consultant was sentenced to nearly two years in federal prison for illegally coordinating between a congressional campaign and a Super PAC. The U.S. Department of Justice also recently announced it will look carefully at allegations of coordination between candidate and outside groups. What does all of this mean? Where is the law heading on this? Are civil and criminal investigations into campaign activity going to be increasing?

  • Allen Dickerson, Legal Director, Center for Competitive Politics
  • Edward D. Greim, Partner, Graves Garrett LLC
  • Tara Malloy Senior Counsel, Campaign Legal Center
  • Moderator: Jason Torchinsky, Holtzman Vogel Josefiak PLLC