CCCS & ERRN (VIC) Joint Seminar: Money in the 2012 American Presidential Elections

Wednesday, 23 May, 2012 - 13:00 to 14:00

The 2012 American presidential election has already seen an explosion not just in the amount of money being spent, but in the sources of that money and the new organizational forms that are quickly becoming dominant players in the electoral process.  In particular, newly emergent organizations outside the formal political parties and the candidates' campaigns known as "SuperPacs"have quickly come to be at least as important in raising and spending money as the parties and the campaigns themselves.  These SuperPacs are a uniquely American phenomenon.

Nearly all commentary on these new organizations treats their emergence as having caused by the Supreme Court's controversial Citizens United decision, in which the Court held that corporations and unions have constitutional free speech rights to engage in unlimited electoral spending.  In this talk, I will take issue with that view.  Despite the fact that these entities emerged directly in the aftermath of the Court's decision, Citizens United is not the reason these organizations have exploded onto the electoral scene.  I will then explore the question of why, among those critical of the rise of SuperPacs, there is such a strong temptation to view Citizens United  as the "root of all evil" in the financing of American elections.

Richard H. Pildes is the Sudler Family Professor of Constitutional Law at New York University School of Law.  He and his co-authors created the law of democracy as a field of study in the law schools, and his scholarship focuses on legal issues concerning the design of democratic processes and government, as well as constitutional, administrative, and national-security law.  His major recent academic articles include Law and the President; Why the Center Does Not Hold:  The Causes of Hyperpolarized Democracy in America; Is the Supreme Court a "Majoritarian" Institution; The Constitutionalization of Democratic Politics; and Separation of Parties, Not Powers. He is a co-author of the casebook, The Law of Democracy and a co-editor of the book, The Future of the Voting Rights Act .  A member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a Guggenheim Fellow, and a Carnegie Scholar, he also served as a law clerk to Justice Thurgood Marshall of the United States Supreme Court.

Venue: Room 609, Level 6, Melbourne Law School

Address: 185 Pelham Street Carlton 3053 VIC


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