Home » Analysis » Rick Hasan’s Summary Op-Ed on McCutcheon is a Must-Read

Rick Hasan’s Summary Op-Ed on McCutcheon is a Must-Read

Writing for SCOTUSblog, Rick Hasan has this summary of the McCutcheon v. FEC decision, and an analysis of Chief Justice John Roberts’ larger partisan goals. See: Rick Hasen, Symposium: Does the Chief Justice not understand politics, or does he understand it all too well?, SCOTUSblog (Apr. 3, 2014, 10:38 AM), http://www.scotusblog.com/2014/04/symposium-does-the-chief-justice-not-understand-politics-or-does-he-understand-it-all-too-well/

The stage has been set for the complete dismantling of all campaign finance limits in the near future. I suspect that the hostility shown by the wealthy toward laws that limited the amount and required the disclosure of campaign contributions is evidence that those laws did in fact hamper the unfettered purchase or lease of the organs of government.

I don’t think that the wealthiest political donors are necessarily ignorant of the destabilizing effect that the McCutcheon decision will have on political access and government policy. I think the people who hope to complete their purchase of the government believe that the short-term benefits of plutocracy outweigh the discounted present-value cost of political violence that tends to result from such an overt redistribution of power. But I am concerned that risk assessments made by the wealthiest donors are not rational, and that political power imposes an observational bias that leads to the underestimation of the risks and costs of revolution.

To paraphrase James Anthony Froude, social inequalities and injustices may be long-lived, but doomsday comes at last, “in French revolutions and other terrible ways.” (for those interested in such things, I recommend Froude’s lecture to the Royal Institution on February 5, 1864, regarding the “Science of History,” in which Froude critiques the then-nascent field of political economics).

Other links that properly highlight the disingenuous reasoning of the McCutcheon decision include:

Ari Berman, “The Supreme Court’s Ideology: More Money, Less Voting.” The Nation (April 2, 2014).

Jon Stewart et al. (2014 April 3). “Donors Unchained – Quid Pro Quo.” The Daily Show [DS], Comedy Central. [5:09 minutes]. Retrieved April 6, 2014, from
Jon Stewart et al. (2014 April 3). “Donors Unchained – Funding Fathers.” The Daily Show, Comedy Central. [2.41 minutes]. Retrieved April 6, 2014, from
[Staff]. “U.S. Currency Finally Achieves Universal Suffrage.” (2014 April 3). The Onion > News. (50):13.
Retrieved April 6, 2014, from


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