Editorials: Iraqi elections: all talk, no walk | Al-Monitor

With the launch earlier this month of campaigns for the April 30 parliamentary elections, Iraq is back to debating the fact that none of the political blocs has put forward an electoral program or platform. The blocs, misunderstanding the concept of a political program, have instead reduced them to vague slogans. The Iraqi political forces competing in the elections justify the absence of real programs by asserting that Iraq remains in transition, so there are real differences over the basis of the political process — such as the Constitution, government formation, the decision-making process and the relationship between the central government and the provinces and the regions. They claim that this reality forces them to take positions on these particular issues, rather than presenting political programs. For example, some campaigns are sloganeering on amending the Constitution, while others’ slogans invoke government formation by the political majority, decentralization and the war on terror.

Editorials: John Roberts and the Color of Money | Tom Levenson/The Atlantic

There has been plenty of talk about the Ta-Nehisi Coates-Jonathan Chait argument over the term “black culture” in the context of the ills of poverty and the question of progress as seen through the lens of the actual history of America. A drastically shortened version of Coates’s analysis is that white supremacy—and the imposition of white power on African-American bodies and property—have been utterly interwoven through the history of American democracy, wealth and power from the beginnings of European settlement in North America. The role of the exploitation of African-American lives in the construction of American society and polity did not end in 1865. Rather, through the levers of law, lawless violence, and violence under the color of law, black American aspirations to wealth, access to capital, access to political power, a share in the advances of the social safety net and more have all been denied with greater or less efficiency. There has been change—as Coates noted in a conversation he and I had a couple of years ago, in 1860 white Americans could sell children away from their parents, and in 1865 they could not—and that is a real shift. But such beginnings did not mean that justice was being done nor equity experienced.

Editorials: Let’s Settle This Once and for All: D.C. Statehood Is Constitutional. Period. | Joan Shipps/Huffington Post

On April 16th, D.C.-based voting rights activists plan to meet with Congressional offices to encourage support for D.C. statehood. Statehood advocates are calling on Congress to cosponsor, hold hearings on, and vote for the New Columbia Admission Act — legislation that would grant full citizenship rights to the disenfranchised residents of Washington, D.C. In anticipation of Wednesday’s lobby day on the Hill, I feel compelled to go on record about the constitutionality of statehood for the citizens of D.C. That D.C. statehood is unconstitutional is the single most common misconception I hear when discussing D.C. governance with Congressional staff and opponents of D.C. voting rights generally. So let me be absolutely clear on this issue: Statehood for the residents of D.C. is Constitutional. Now here’s why. The D.C. statehood bill does two things, both of which have precedent without any constitutional amendments.

Editorials: Cheap GOP tactics to undermine voting in Missouri | Kansas City Star

Republicans in the Missouri General Assembly are mounting a two-pronged effort to make voting more difficult for certain citizens, who are most likely to be elderly, low-income, students or minorities. They’re not even subtle about it. On one front, the annual effort to require voters to produce government-issued photo identification at the polls is moving quickly. If the Senate votes in favor, a resolution seeking a constitutional amendment requiring photo identification will be headed for the November ballot. A separate effort, endorsed Wednesday by the House, is a pre-emptive strike against a citizen-initiated ballot proposal to finally get early voting in Missouri. In a show of pettiness, the House budget even deletes $79,900 in funding for a special unit of the secretary of state’s office that investigates allegations of election improprieties. The elections integrity unit is a more effective and less expensive way to ensure that elections work well than a cumbersome voter ID law. Created by Secretary of State Jason Kander, it follows up on complaints and suspected problems. The intent is not only to look out for the slim prospect that an ineligible citizen may try to cast a ballot, but to make sure that the process of voting works well for citizens who are eligible.

Editorials: Algeria votes – but for what? | Los Angeles Times

Though the votes have not yet been counted in Thursday’s presidential election in Algeria, the result is all but decided: President Abdelaziz Bouteflika will win a fourth term. Bouteflika’s long reign is unprecedented (and unconstitutional), and so is the nature of the election. The ailing and frail 77-year-old Bouteflika had not made a single public or televised campaign appearance until this month’s meeting with U.S. Secretary of State John F. Kerry, in which Bouteflika looked more dead than alive. Indeed, one critic, novelist Yasmina Khadra, calls Bouteflika’s government a “zombie regime.” The president — a functionary of the National Liberation Front, the party that has owned Algeria since its independence in 1962 — is entrenched, propped up by generals and an uneasy status quo. The question is, how long will the government manage to impose scripted elections on a population ready for the risks and rewards of an unscripted future?

Editorials: Lost in the Canadian Fair Elections Act fight: The right to vote | Cara Faith Zwibel/The Globe and Mail

A supporter of Stephen Harper’s government has suggested that Elections Canada is in an inherent conflict of interest because of its twin goals of increasing voter turnout and improving the integrity of the system. It is argued that, in light of this conflict, Elections Canada’s concerns about the government’s proposed Fair Elections Act can’t be taken seriously. Does this conflict really exist? Since its introduction in early February, the government’s proposed Fair Elections Act has been widely debated in the pages of our major newspapers, the focus of town hall meetings held across the country by the NDP, and the subject of testimony and heated questioning before a House of Commons Committee. The bill has even been the topic of a pre-study by a Senate Committee, an indication that the government would like to move it forward quickly. One of the most hotly contested parts of the bill would put an end to vouching, a process that allows people without appropriate identification to vote, provided another elector in their polling division is able to vouch for their identity and residence.

Editorials: Voting Rights & Wrongs | Commonweal Magazine

President Barack Obama recently joined former presidents George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and Jimmy Carter at the President Lyndon Baines Johnson Library in Austin, Texas, to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. It is no exaggeration to say that the Civil Rights Act, and the Voting Rights Act of the following year, were the most transformational political developments of the past century in the United States. It was a difficult, often violent struggle, but in the end what was implicit in the nation’s founding documents finally became explicit in federal law. The Civil Rights Act made it illegal to discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin in public accommodations. The Voting Rights Act addressed discrimination in elections, ultimately dismantling a system that had shut African Americans out of voting booths for nearly a hundred years. A few days after his Austin speech the president was in New York City to speak to Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network, and he took that opportunity to remind his audience that the struggle for equal rights never ends and to call attention to a disturbing political development. “The right to vote is threatened today in a way that it has not been since the Voting Rights Act became law,” Obama said. “Across the country, Republicans have led efforts to pass laws making it harder, not easier, for people to vote.” With uncharacteristic severity, Obama has called the effort to restrict voting “un-American.”

Editorials: One Person, One Vote? Maybe One Day | Juliet Lapidos/New York Times

President Obama said on Friday that he would make voting rights a priority. But given that Congress can barely get around to naming post offices anymore, D.C.-led progress seems unlikely. There is, however, a plan to make voting more fair—at least in presidential elections—which would require no action from the capital: The National Popular Vote compact. As Eleanor Randolph explained recently, state signatories agree to give their electoral votes to whoever wins the popular vote so long as enough other states, with a combined 270 electoral votes, pledge to do the same.

Editorials: A less bad Fair Elections Act is still not good enough | The Globe and Mail

The Conservative government may finally be waking up to the enormity of its own recklessness. With the Fair Elections Act, Democratic Reform Minister Pierre Poilievre wasn’t just taking aim at Canadian democracy. He wasn’t just going to war against evidence and experts. He was taking a gun, loading the magazine, cocking the hammer and pointing it at his own head and the government’s. Finger on the trigger, he’s now wondering if anyone might suggest ways to lessen the chance of injury. The Conservative majority on the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee, having barely begun its study of the bill, is already recommending that he remove some of the bullets. Some, but not all. Here’s a better idea, for the country and the Conservative Party: Put the gun down. On Tuesday, the Senate committee’s Conservative majority offered an interim report, containing nine suggested amendments. Their proposals make the bill less bad, which is something. Less bad, but still not good. Is it too much to ask for legislation that leaves our democratic system no worse off, or even makes it better?

Editorials: Why putting photos on Social Security cards won’t save voting rights | Michael Hiltzik/Los Angeles Times

A certain William Wachtel, the co-founder of WhyTuesday, an election reform group chaired by former UN Ambassador Andrew Young, wrote me over the weekend to complain that I treated Young harshly by criticizing his proposal to require Social Security to issue photo IDs. I called it “a terrible idea.” Norman Ornstein, a political scientist at the American Enterprise Institute and another co-founder of WhyTuesday, also defended the proposal, which Young mentioned at an event last week marking the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act. Ornstein mounted his defense via Twitter, which only made Young’s idea sound even shallower and more foolish.  What these gentlemen failed to do is explain why requiring Social Security to issue photo IDs is not a terrible idea. But since they seem to feel strongly about it–Wachtel even suggested that I owe Young a “public apology”; who knew seasoned diplomats could be so sensitive?–it’s proper for me to reinforce my point. Young’s goal is to undercut efforts by Republicans in many states to discourage voting by enacting laws requiring voters to prove their identities with photo IDs. Since people who lack government-issued IDs are disproportionately minorities and the poor and probably tend to vote Democratic, you’d have to be blind not to see what’s going on here. But as I wrote, Young has the wrong answer. His idea could undermine voting rights even more.

Editorials: Republicans Used to Support Voting Rights—What Happened? | Ari Berman/The Nation

During a speech on Friday at the National Action Network, President Obama made his strongest and most extensive comments yet on the topic of voting rights. “The right to vote is threatened today in a way that it has not been since the Voting Rights Act became law nearly five decades ago,” Obama said. “Across the country, Republicans have led efforts to pass laws making it harder, not easier, for people to vote.” The election of the first black president and the resurrection of voter suppression efforts was hardly a coincidence. New voting restrictions took effect in nineteen states from 2011–12. Nine states under GOP control have adopted measures to make it more difficult to vote since 2013. Since the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act in June 2013, half of the states (eight in total) previously covered under Section 5 have passed or implemented new voting restrictions. … Things weren’t always this way. In his new book about the Civil Rights Act, An Idea Whose Time Has Come, Todd Purdum tells the story of Bill McCulloch, a conservative Republican from Ohio who championed civil rights as the ranking Republican on the House Judiciary Committee. The Politico excerpt from the book was titled “The Republican Who Saved Civil Rights.”

Editorials: Compulsory voting is counter-productive | David Moscrop/Ottawa Citizen

Sometimes I catch hell from friends or colleagues for my occasional but deliberate choice to abstain from voting. Their admonitions take the form of a variation on the theme of it being my civic duty to vote: as a political theorist I should know better; men and women fought and died so that I could; those who don’t vote shouldn’t complain, and I complain a lot, so I should show up or clam up. These arguments are easily enough dismissed. When I choose not to vote I have reasons. Often the candidates are weak, but there’s no option to decline my ballot. Sometimes the parties are senseless and none deserves my vote. Other times the outcome of the race has been pre-determined by demographic facts well beyond my control. Always the atrocious and severely-dated first-past-the-post system does a poor job of translating votes into seats. Every few years the idea of compulsory voting — a system in which electors are required by law to cast their ballot and in which those who do not are, strictly speaking, subject to fines or criminal charges or even jail time — creeps into our political discourse. Nearly two-dozen countries have mandatory voting laws on the books, although not all of them enforce the law.

Editorials: Democrats finally make voting rights a top priority | Zachary Roth/MSNBC

For years, voting-rights advocates have been quietly urging Democrats and the Obama administration to fully embrace the fight over access to the ballot as a defining civil-rights issue of our day. This was the week when it finally happened. The heightened rhetoric, which came from President Obama and other heavyweights in his party, is the latest sign that voting rights are likely to be a front-burner issue when Americans go to the polls this fall—at least  if Democrats have their way. In a speech at the National Action Network convention in New York City Friday afternoon, Obama used his most forceful language yet on the subject to condemn Republican efforts to make voting harder. “The right to vote is threatened today in a way that it has not been since the Voting Rights Act became law nearly five decades ago,” the president said. “Across the country, Republicans have led efforts to pass laws making it harder, not easier, for people to vote.”

Editorials: Has Roberts court placed landmark 1964 civil rights law on a hit list? | CNN

It took the assassination of a president, a ferocious legislative battle and a bloodied army of protesters filling the streets of America to get the Civil Rights Act of 1964 passed.
A half-century later, defenders of the landmark law say it faces a new threat: Five votes on the U.S. Supreme Court and an indifferent public. As the nation celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act, it’s tempting to believe the battle over the law is over. But people are still clashing over it — what it means, how long should it last and whether it discriminates against whites. Now some supporters of the law fear the battle has shifted to new terrain. They warn that the conservative majority on the court, headed by Chief Justice John Roberts Jr., will do to the law what it did last year to the Voting Rights Act — gut the parts that make it work while leaving its façade still standing. “I think Roberts is very smart and takes the long view,” says Kent Greenfield, a columnist and professor at Boston College Law School. “The Roberts court won’t say this law cannot stand.”

Editorials: Why voting rights is the Democrats’ most important project in 2014 | Washington Post

Although the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is the main muse of the Civil Rights Summit taking place at the LBJ Presidential Library this week, legislation passed the following year, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, has brought forth many words from the Obama administration this week, many of which can be linked neatly to the 2014 midterms and where the Democratic Party sees itself in the future. His discussion of voting rights is framed by the civil rights movement and the once overwhelming and bipartisan support for expanding voter franchise. He mentions that Strom Thurmond voted to reauthorize the Voting Rights Act in the ’80s, and that the Senate vote to reauthorize the law in 2006 was 98-0. Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) said before that vote, “As we reflect on the true wrongs that existed in the 1950s and 1960s and where those wrongs may have taken place, we owe it to history . . . to pay tribute to those who took the law and made it a reality.” Last year, the Supreme Court struck down Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act, which means states with a history of discrimination that once needed preclearance for redistricting no longer require special attention from the Justice Department, unless Congress passes an amended Section 4, an unlikely prospect given the current congressional class. Many state legislatures reacted by passing legislation that often makes it harder to vote. There are new voter-ID laws, and early voting and same-day registration have been sanded away in many states. The conservative argument for these laws is that they help prevent voter fraud. Democrats respond that it also prevents their base from voting.

Editorials: The Supreme Court Gutted the Voting Rights Act. What Happened Next in These 8 States Will Not Shock You. | Mother Jones

When the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 to overturn a key section of the Voting Rights Act last June, Justice Ruth Ginsburg warned that getting rid of the measure was like “throwing away your umbrella in a rainstorm because you are not getting wet.” The 1965 law required that lawmakers in states with a history of discriminating against minority voters get federal permission before changing voting rules. Now that the Supreme Court has invalidated this requirement, GOP lawmakers across the United States are running buck wild with new voting restrictions. Before the Shelby County v. Holder decision came down on June 25, Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act required federal review of new voting rules in 15 states, most of them in the South. (In a few of these states, only specific counties or townships were covered.) Chief Justice John Roberts voted to gut the Voting Rights Act on the basis that “our country has changed,” and that blanket federal protection wasn’t needed to stop discrimination. But the country hasn’t changed as much as he may think.

Editorials: Opening the political money chutes | Richard Hasen/Reuters

The headline about a new Supreme Court opinion rarely tells the whole story.  Rather, the detailed reasoning of the ruling often reveals whether a decision is a blockbuster or a dud. When the court writes broadly, it can eventually remake entire industries, government practices or areas of the law. Lawyers and lower courts scrutinize an opinion’s every line and footnote, pouring over the legal reasoning and noting subtle changes from the court’s earlier decisions in the same area. This is why it is fair to call last week’s Supreme Court ruling in the campaign finance case McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission a blockbuster case. In McCutcheon, the court struck down limits on the total amount that an individual could give to federal candidates, parties and certain political committees in an election cycle. The ruling is itself significant, and will channel a great deal of money into the hands of party leaders — opening up new ways for big donors to buy access to elected officials. But just as significant is the court’s reasoning — which could well lead to courts striking down what remain of campaign finance limits, including limits on contributions to individual members of Congress. We could be on our way to politicians accepting multimillion-dollar contributions from a single donor.

Editorials: Roberts Court: Easier to donate, harder to vote | Elizabeth B. Wydra/Reuters

Chief Justice John Roberts’ first sentence of his majority opinion in McCutcheon v. Federal Elections Commission, striking down important limits on campaign contributions, declares “There is no right more basic in our democracy than the right to participate in electing our political leaders.” A look at the Roberts Court’s record, however, shows that this may not be its guiding principle. Through a series of rulings, the court’s conservative majority’s rulings have instead made it easier for big-money donors to influence elections — while making it harder for many Americans to use the only political influence they have: their vote. The court has done handsprings to accommodate claims that laws burdening donors’ ability to spend money in elections are unconstitutional. In Citizens United, for example, the court decided to schedule re-argument during a special court session — something very rare in the Supreme Court — to consider whether to strike down campaign finance restrictions on corporate expenditures as unconstitutional. (Which the court ultimately did.). The plaintiff in that case hadn’t even pressed such a radical argument, until the court explicitly invited it to do so.

Editorials: Supreme Oligarchy | E.J. Dionne Jr./The Washington Post

An oligarchy, Webster’s dictionary tells us, is “a form of government in which the ruling power belongs to a few persons.” It’s a shame that the Republican majority on the Supreme Court doesn’t know the difference between an oligarchy and a democratic republic. Yes, I said “the Republican majority,” violating a nicety based on the pretense that when people reach the high court, they forget their party allegiance. We need to stop peddling this fiction. On cases involving the right of Americans to vote and the ability of a very small number of very rich people to exercise unlimited influence on the political process, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and his four allies always side with the wealthy, the powerful and the forces that would advance the political party that put them on the court. The ideological overreach that is wrecking our politics is now also wrecking our jurisprudence. The court’s latest ruling in McCutcheon et al. v. Federal Election Commission should not be seen in isolation. (The “et al.,” by the way, refers to the Republican National Committee.) It is yet another act of judicial usurpation by five justices who treat the elected branches of our government with contempt and precedent as meaningless.

Editorials: Mega-Donors Are Now More Important Than Most Politicians | Peter Beinart/The Atlantic

Quick: Name a senator who served between the Civil War and World War I. Struggling? Now name a tycoon who bought senators during the same period. J.P. Morgan, John D. Rockefeller … it’s easier. And for good reason. The tycoons mattered more. Gilded Age industrialists—who had amassed levels of wealth unseen in American history—frequently dominated the politicians who enjoyed putative power to write the laws. In 1896, when corporations could give directly to political candidates, pro-corporate Republican presidential candidate William McKinley raised $16 million to populist Democrat William Jennings Bryan’s $600,000. “All questions in a democracy,” declared McKinley’s campaign manager, Mark Hanna, are “questions of money.” The Roberts Court seems to agree. The astonishing concentration of wealth among America’s super-rich, combined with a Supreme Court determined to tear down the barriers between their millions and our elections, is once again shifting the balance of power between politicians and donors. You could see it during last weekend’s “Sheldon primary,” when four major presidential contenders flocked to Las Vegas to court one man.

Editorials: One Dollar, One Vote | David Cole/New York Review of Books

As Senator Mitch McConnell, an outspoken opponent of regulating campaign spending, has conceded, trying to put limits on political donations is not easy. In McConnell’s words, it’s “like putting a rock on Jell-O. It oozes out some other place.” But if it was difficult before the Supreme Court’s decision this week in McCutcheon v.FEC, it is likely to be impossible now. It was precisely to address the possibility that wealthy people might try to circumvent restrictions on political contributions that Congress not only limited how much money individuals can directly give to political candidates, but also capped the total amount they can donate to all candidates in any election cycle. The Court’s most recent decision, by invalidating all aggregate limits on donations, has vastly increased the amount of Jell-O that campaign finance laws now must contend with. And still more disturbingly, the decision’s rationale invites further challenges to Congressional limits on campaign spending. When this Court gets through, there may be no rock left at all—only Jell-O.

Editorials: The real danger behind the ‘McCutcheon’ ruling | Ruth Marcus/The Washington Post

There is more than one way to demolish a wall, physical or legal. Go at it with a bulldozer, or weaken its foundations and await the collapse. When it comes to undermining the structure of modern campaign finance law, Chief Justice John Roberts has done it both ways. The 2010 ruling in the Citizens United case, which Roberts joined, was a judicial bulldozer, willy-nilly toppling precedents that had restricted corporate spending on elections. But the chief justice prefers a cannier jurisprudence, less in-your-face but perhaps just as destructive. Wednesday’s ruling in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, invalidating limits on the overall amount of donations an individual can give to federal candidates and committees, illustrated that insidiously effective approach.

Editorials: Kansas election uncertainty | Lawrence Journal World

With less than two months to go before the June 2 filing deadline for Kansas candidates seeking statewide or national office, questions about the upcoming election cycle abound. A U.S. District Court in Wichita ruled last month that the U.S. Election Assistance Commission must act immediately to modify federal voter registration forms to accommodate proof-of-citizenship laws in Kansas and Arizona. That decision has been appealed to the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals by more than a dozen voting rights groups, including the League of Women Voters of the United States, Common Cause, Project Vote and the Inter Tribal Council of Arizona. Those appealing the decision also asked the Wichita judge to stay his own order while their appeal is being considered.

Editorials: Afghan elections: The morning after | Al Jazeera

“I am voting today to secure my grandchildren’s future,” said an octogenarian woman waiting in line at a polling station in the northern Afghan city of Mazar-i Sharif. Throughout the day, Afghan media continuously showed live footage of voters standing in long lines: Old men leaning on their canes, women of all ages, first-time young voters, people from all walks of life and hailing from all of Afghanistan’s ethnic groups. The 2014 presidential and provincial council elections opened at 7am on a cold and drizzling morning in Kabul, amid heavy security measures prompted by three deadly attacks the previous week and a Taliban threat to voters. Thousands of people had queued at polling stations at dawn, right after morning prayer. The air was filled with enthusiasm, hope and a kind of energy that I had only felt on Nowruz 2002, the first Afghan New Year’s Day after the fall of the Taliban. Twelve years later, however, there was an added aura of determination and defiance. My parents’ generation experienced this kind of euphoria in October 1964, when at the behest of the last Afghan king, Zahir Shah, a new Afghan Constitution had changed absolute monarchy to a constitutional one and had started what is known in contemporary Afghan history as the “decade of democracy”.

Editorials: The subtle awfulness of the McCutcheon v. FEC campaign finance decision: The John Roberts two-step | Richard Hasen/Slate

Back when Justice Elena Kagan was Solicitor General Kagan, she argued to the Supreme Court in favor of the ban on corporate spending in the Citizens United case. She offered the justices all kinds of ways for the court to decide that case in favor of the nonprofit corporation, short of overturning the ban itself. When questioned by Chief Justice John Roberts about whether she was asking for the government to lose in a certain way, Kagan responded: “If you are asking me, Mr. Chief Justice, as to whether the government has a preference as to the way in which it loses, if it has to lose, the answer is yes.” Today, once again, the government lost a campaign finance case, McCutcheon v. FEC. And while it could have lost in somewhat worse ways, this opinion is pretty awful, portending a raft of new First Amendment attacks on soft money and even on the basic rules limiting how much individuals can give candidates for office. As I explained back in September in Slate, at issue in McCutcheon was “aggregate” campaign finance limits in federal elections. Federal law currently caps at $48,600 thetotal amount an individual can give to all federal candidates for office during any one two-year election cycle. It also limits to $74,600 the total amount an individual can give to political committees that make contributions to candidates and sets a total cap of $123,200 for contributions in the two-year cycle. This law was challenged by someone who wanted to give a series of $1,776 contributions to more congressional candidates than he was allowed, and the Republican National Committee, which wanted to accept more than it was allowed to take under this legal regime.

Editorials: John Roberts Lays The Groundwork To Wipe Out Campaign Finance Limits | TPM

Not only did the Supreme Court deliver a major blow Wednesday to campaign finance restrictions, it may have laid the groundwork to dismantle what’s left of campaign contribution limits, legal experts say. The controlling opinion in McCutcheon v. FEC, written by Chief Justice John Roberts, eliminated “aggregate” limits on a person’s contribution to candidates and political committees in an election cycle. It left untouched restrictions on how much money someone can give to a single candidate or committee — but Roberts’ reasoning signals that those may be in trouble, too. “By requiring that any campaign finance laws be deemed necessary to prevent quid pro quo corruption, akin to bribery, many more campaign laws could fall in the near future, including those base $2,600 limits,” wrote Rick Hasen, an election law expert at UC Irvine. “While Roberts goes out of his way to say that those base limits were not challenged today, he does not do anything to affirm that those limits are safe.”

Editorials: The John Roberts Project: Campaign Contributions Beyond McCutcheon | Jeffrey Toobin/The New Yorker

If you think that the Supreme Court’s decision in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission was bad, just wait: worse may be on the way. The issue before the Court was fairly narrow, even a little obscure. Congress bars individuals from contributing more than fifty-two hundred dollars to any candidate for federal office in any election cycle. It also bars individuals from contributing more than a hundred and twenty-three thousand dollars, in total, to multiple federal candidates in a cycle. In the McCutcheon case, by a vote of five to four, the Court struck down the overall hundred-and-twenty-three-thousand-dollar limit. But this ruling will affect relatively few campaign contributors. In the most recent cycle, fewer than six hundred donors maxed out to candidates. So why is the case important? Because the language of Chief Justice John Roberts’s opinion suggests that the Court remains committed to the project announced most prominently in the Citizens United case, four years ago: the deregulation of American political campaigns.

Editorials: D.C.’s long wait for election results is inexcusable | The Washington Post

As he took to the stage Tuesday night to concede defeat in the District’s Democratic primary, Mayor Vincent C. Gray felt the need to mention the night’s delay in reporting election results. “We’ve got some work to do there,” he said of the D.C. Board of Elections. “We probably have known that for a while.” Indeed. So woeful was the performance of election officials that it competed with Muriel Bowser’s upset of Mr. Gray for the morning’s headlines. Even more distressing is that this was not the first time the District has been embarrassed or its residents inconvenienced by the amateurish operation of its elections office.

Editorials: Supreme Court ruling: As if we don’t have enough money in politics already | Jessica A. Levinson/Los Angeles Times

Thank you, Supreme Court. Before your decision Wednesday in McCutcheon vs. FEC, Americans were confined to giving a measly total of $48,600 in campaign contributions to federal candidates (enough for about nine candidates) and a total of $74,600 to political action committees. That means individuals were subject to aggregate contributions limits totaling a mere $123,200. Of course, individuals could, and still can, give unlimited sums to independent groups, such as so-called super PACs and other nonprofit corporations. Much of this giving remains undisclosed. For instance, super PACs such as Restore Our Future, American Crossroads, Priorities USA Action and others spent almost $830 million in the 2012 election. Talk about constraints on one’s ability to participate in our electoral processes. And how many people were handcuffed by these limits? Well, fewer than 600 donors, or 0.0000019% of Americans, gave the maximum amount under those oh-so-restrictive limits, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. And 0.1% of 310 million Americans give $2,500 or more in political campaigns. Well, good news for you big donors: no more pesky aggregate contribution limits. Sure, you are still limited to giving only $5,200 per federal candidate ($2,600 for the primary and $2,600 for the general) and $5,000 annually per PAC. But now you can directly support as many candidates as you want.

Editorials: Justice Roberts Hearts Billionaires: Justice Roberts doesn’t believe in money’s power to corrupt, so there’s that | Dahlia Lithwick/Slate

Five years ago, when the Supreme Court handed down the decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, polls showed that the American public—or at least a mere 80 percent of them—disapproved. Now of course public approval hardly matters when it comes to interpreting the First Amendment, but given that one of the important issues in the case was the empirical question of whether corporate free speech rights increased the chance of corruption or the appearance of corruption in electoral politics, the court might care at least a bit about what the public thinks constitutes corruption. Or why the public believed Citizens United opened the floodgates to future corruption. Or why it is that campaign finance reform once seemed to be a good idea with respect to fighting corruption in the first instance. Now, in a kind of ever-worsening judicial Groundhog Day of election reform, the Supreme Court has, with its decision in McCutcheon v. FEC, swept away concerns over “aggregate” campaign finance limits to candidates and party committees in federal elections, finding in the words of Chief Justice John Roberts—who wrote the plurality opinion for the court’s five conservatives—that the “aggregate limits do not further the permissible governmental interest in preventing quid pro quo corruption or its appearance.” In other words, since bajillionaires should be able to give capped amounts to several candidates, they should be allowed to give capped amounts to many, many, many candidates, without raising the specter of corruption.