Editorials: Let’s not give Chris Christie a pass for election chicanery | Rob Richie/Salon.com

On October 16th – a Wednesday, no less – New Jersey voters are being asked to go to the polls to select a new U.S Senator to replace Jeffrey Chiesa, Gov. Chris Christie’s stand-in for the long-time Democratic Senator Frank Lautenberg, who died earlier this year. Bizarrely, this oh-so-special election takes place just 20 days before these same voters will be asked to return to the polls for the regularly scheduled election for governor and state legislature. The cost to New Jersey taxpayers? Some $12 million. The adverse impact on voter turnout for having two separate elections in 20 days? Significant. The partisan calculation behind the election date? Blatant. It’s hard to know when we’ll hit bottom in shameless manipulation of our electoral laws by leaders of both major parties, but let’s hope it doesn’t get much lower than Gov. Christie’s “datemander.” When announcing his election schedule last spring, Christie justified the October 16th date with his professed belief that New Jersey voters needed as many days as possible with an elected Senator – then proceeded to appoint a Republican who for four months opposed most of the positions held by the man originally elected by those voters.

Editorials: No, overturning campaign contribution limits really would be a problem | Bob Biersack/Washington Post

Ray La Raja made some interesting points in his post last week about McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission.  I’m not as sanguine as he is about this case, and I think each of his points deserves a little more consideration. First, Ray argues that the current direct contribution limit for people giving to candidates ($2,600 per election) is very low.  He goes so far as to note that $2,600 is about 0.18% of the $1.4 million or so the typical House winner spends in a campaign.  There are a couple of nits to pick with this description.  First, the $2,600 limit is, of course, a “per election” limit, and virtually every candidate for federal office participates in at least two elections (a primary and a general) in each cycle.  So, the proper way to describe this boundary is that the existing limit is effectively at least $5,200 per candidate.   That means that just under 300 people are able to fully fund the typical House winner under existing limits without a penny from PACs or parties or other campaigns — not exactly requiring a groundswell of support.

Editorials: Seek bipartisan OK for online voter registration in Minnesota | Star Tribune

It’s high time for online voter registration to come to Minnesota, promising the convenience, accuracy and administrative cost savings it has already delivered in 16 other states, with two more state systems pending. It’s a shame that it arrived here under partisan and legal clouds that could threaten its staying power. Republican legislative leaders were quick to fault Secretary of State Mark Ritchie last week for initiating an online voter registration system without first obtaining explicit legislative permission to do so. Minnesota Majority — the voter fraud alarmist organization that pushed last year’s unsuccessful attempt to make a government-issued photo ID a voting requirement — said it is “consulting attorneys and considering legal actions” to block the new option. Ritchie had to see those clouds coming. The DFL secretary of state’s previous tangles with Republicans and their allies over ballot question wording and voter fraud served ample warning that a unilateral approach to online registration would meet with GOP criticism and possibly a court challenge.

Editorials: Yes, the new Pennsylvania Voter ID ad campaign is about confusing people | Philadelphia Weekly

The Inquirer noted yesterday that the Pennsylvania Department of State has decided to relaunch its $1 million Voter ID advertising campaign despite voters not needing to show identification at the polls for the upcoming November election. You remember: the “Show It” ads that popped up on TV in the summer and fall of 2012. Critics have contended they’re misleading and unnecessarily cost the taxpayers money since the voter ID law they’re meant to bring attention to is tied up in court. And the critics are right. Using government dollars to tell people to show identification at the polls this year is at best disingenuous. At worst, it’s a malicious attempt to use the idea of a voter identification law to keep eligible voters confused and at home on Election Day, perhaps proving this was the law’s intention all along.

Editorials: Azerbaijan’s ‘AppGate’ | Al Jazeera

Few people honestly thought that Azerbaijan stood a serious chance of conducting a fair and free presidential election on October 9. As I have written extensively, since the beginning of the year, Azerbaijani authorities have been engaged in an unprecedented crackdown to silence all forms of criticism and dissent. The underlying climate simply did not allow for a fair competition – not to mention that Azerbaijan has not held a single authentically democratic election since Aliyev came to power in 2003. Still, the brazen nature of the electoral violations that took place surprised even close observers of Azerbaijan. A day before the election, Meydan TV, a satellite/Internet television station, broke the story that set the tone for the whole election, which became known as the “AppGate” scandal. Meydan TV exposed an apparent fault of the Central Election Commission’s mobile phone application to allow users to track election results. On October 8, Meydan TV discovered that the results section of the application was showing, giving incumbent President Ilham Aliyev 72.76 percent of the vote before a single vote had been cast.

Editorials: The Supreme Court needs to get smarter about politics | Trevor Potter/The Washington Post

At one point during the oral argument Tuesday in the case of McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, Justice Antonin Scalia remarked that he didn’t understand the legislation in question. “This campaign finance law is so intricate that I can’t figure it out,” he said. “It might have been nice to have the, you know, the lower court tell me what the law is.” Scalia meant to be playful. But as the argument progressed, it became clear that the justices really don’t know enough about money in politics. They expressed skepticism about “wild hypotheticals that are not obviously plausible” — when in fact we’ve already seen those scenarios play out. They talked a lot about the FEC’s “earmarking” and “coordination” rules, but they didn’t seem to recognize that those rules are impossible to police and that a dysfunctional FEC isn’t doing much policing anyway. And the conservatives on the court seemed to fail to understand what leads to corruption or the appearance of corruption — with Justice Samuel Alito going so far as to suggest that giving a very large check to a political fundraising committee isn’t inherently a problem, because the committee could take the money and burn it. “Well, they’re not,” replied Solicitor General Donald Verrilli. “They are not going to burn it.”

Editorials: Raise filing fee to weed out recreational Minneapolis candidates | Star Tribune

In mayoral contests, as in many human endeavors, it’s possible to have too much of a good thing. That’s the problem vexing Minneapolis voters this fall. Political choice is good, but settling on first, second and third choices from a list of 35 candidates for mayor is daunting for even the most politically attuned voter. And the mayoral race is only the beginning. Voters also must study and sort 10 candidates for three at-large seats on the Parks and Recreation Board, four for two seats on the Board of Estimate and Taxation, and in most wards, between three and six contenders for City Council. Many factors contributed to this year’s unprecedented wave of candidacies. It’s the first Minneapolis election in 20 years without an incumbent mayor on the ballot. The dominant DFL Party is divided in some wards and did not endorse a candidate for mayor, prolonging some candidacies past what would have been their usual expiration point. The willingness of so many nominal DFLers to run for the same office might fairly be seen as a reflection of the latter-day DFL’s undisciplined condition.

Editorials: North Carolina local elections find students fired up to fight rights rollbacks | Facing South

If the local elections that took place across North Carolina this week are any indication, the Republican effort to roll back voting rights in the state and enact other regressive policies have inspired students at historically black schools to stand up, soldier forth, and fight back at the ballot box. After Elizabeth City State University student Montravias King declared his intention to run for a local city council seat earlier this year, he faced a legal challenge from Pasquotank County GOP chair Richard “Pete” Gilbert. Gilbert claimed King should be disqualified because he was registered to vote at his college dormitory, arguing that it is only a temporary residence. Gilbert had previously challenged registrations of students at the historically black school for the same reason but not of students at the nearby largely white Christian college. The Pasquotank County Board of Elections sided with Gilbert and struck King from the ballot. But with the help of attorneys with the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, King appealed the local board’s decision to the state elections board, which last month unanimously upheld his constitutional right to run for office.

Editorials: Tennessee’s Voting Machines | Memphis Flyer

On the political scene, growing numbers of observers have been worrying out loud about the vulnerability of our voting devices, especially those — like the ESS-manufactured machines in use in Shelby County — which depend so heavily on the computerized processing of results. Opponents, like local investigator Joe Weinberg, contend that both the hardware and software of these machines, and electronic devices like them, are inherently unreliable and subject to being hacked. Anybody who has looked into the fruits of Weinberg’s researches will realize, at the very least, how complicated these mechanisms are and how complex the potential problems they present. Rich Holden, the current administrator of the Shelby County Election Commission, has insisted that the margin for error of these election machines is infinitesimally small, and he contends that, as instruments for measuring the vote, they are far more efficient, less time-consuming, and more accurate by far than the old practice of voting via paper ballots. He sees that method as retrograde and believes that a return to it is the true goal of those who criticize the now-prevailing method.

Editorials: McCutcheon and the two-pronged attack on voting rights | Facing South

Rev. William J. Barber, the most visible civil rights leader in North Carolina today, stood in front of the U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C. this week as the court heard arguments on whether campaign contribution limits are constitutional. The president of the North Carolina conference of the NAACP and architect of the Moral Monday movement was speaking at a rally organized by a coalition of groups asking the court to maintain the limits as a way of protecting democracy from corruption. While he was there to discuss McCutcheon v. FEC, Barber also referenced another case. “A few months ago, this court, on a day that shall live in infamy, gutted the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the crown jewel of the Second Reconstruction movement my parents and grandparents fought for,” said Barber. An “extremist anti-democracy faction” in North Carolina’s state legislature, he said, “celebrated the infamous Shelby decision by rolling out the worst voter suppression bill in the country, and they are just waiting to see what the court will do here.”

Editorials: Don’t split the baby, Chief Justice Roberts | Michael McGough/Los Angeles Times

Going into Tuesday’s Supreme Court oral argument, supporters of limits on campaign contributions were afraid, very afraid, that a majority of the court would signal that it was ready to declare them unconstitutional. Based on questions and comments from Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., widely viewed as the swing vote in the case, their trepidation seems at least partly justified. The issue before the court is whether it violates the 1st Amendment to limit donors to an “aggregate” limit on what they can donate to all candidates and party committees combined; the current ceiling is $123,200. Shaun McCutcheon, a Republican donor from Alabama, has challenged the aggregate limit, though not the “base” limit on what a donor can give an individual candidate ($2,600 in the current election cycle).

Editorials: An upside-down campaign finance system | Jennifer Rubin/Washington Post

The Supreme Court argument in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission on aggregate limits on campaign donations was odd, to say the least. Justices who were inclined to uphold the limit seemed to agree that the limits on what an individual can give to all candidates and the national and state parties collectively is there to prevent a few billionaires from controlling elections. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, for example, asked, “Is there any information on what percentage of all contributors are able to contribute over the aggregate?” Justice Elena Kagan later echoed this concern: “Now, having written a check for $3.5 million to a single party’s candidates, are you suggesting that that party and the members of that party are not going to owe me anything, that I won’t get any special treatment?” The solicitor general asserted the same: “Aggregate limits combat corruption both by blocking circumvention of individual contribution limits and, equally fundamentally, by serving as a bulwark against a campaign finance system dominated by massive individual contributions in which the dangers of quid pro quo corruption would be obvious and inherent and the corrosive appearance of corruption would be overwhelming.”

Editorials: Supreme Court of India – Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trails Must Be Used | James Tyre/EFF

Three years ago, I wrote of the controversy surrounding the use of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) in India. A study by 2010 EFF Pioneer Award winner Hari Prasad and others showed that the EVMs could be hacked. For his troubles, Prasad was charged criminally for alleged theft of the EVM that was studied. The charges against Prasad have long since been dropped, but the controversy surrounding India’s electronic voting machines continues. Some have advocated that the EVMs be abandoned completely, and that India should go back to using old fashioned paper ballots. Others have claimed that the EVMs can be made more secure, but only if a Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) is added. For a significant time, the Election Commission of India continued to maintain that the EVMs were tamper proof. However, a number of different lawsuits were brought challenging the use of EVMs without VVPATs. The most significant was a public interest litigation action brought byDr. Subramanian Swamy. Yesterday, the Supreme Court of India ruled in favor of Dr. Swamy, reversing an earlier ruling by the High Court of Delhi.

Editorials: How Close Will the Supreme Court Get to Ending Campaign-Finance Laws? | Garrett Epps/The Atlantic

“Chutzpah,” wrote the late Leo Rosten, “is that quality enshrined in a man who, having killed his mother and father, throws himself upon the mercy of the court because he is an orphan.” Here’s another example: Mr. Chief Justice and may it please the Court, three years ago, in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, this Court tore a gaping hole in the system of campaign-finance regulation designed by Congress over 30 years. The result has been disastrous: a flood of dark money that now dominates elections, drowning out ordinary citizens and even the candidates and parties themselves. The solution to this problem is simple: This Court should tear another gaping hole in what’s left of the system so that the rich can give more—maybe much more—directly to the candidates and parties. What could possibly go wrong? That, in essence, was the message delivered to the Court Tuesday by lawyers for Alabama businessman Sean McCutcheon and the Republican National Committee. His attorney argued that because Citizens United unleashed “independent expenditures” while allowing the government to limit the amount of money contributed directly to campaigns, rich people are giving to PACs rather than to candidates or party committees. Why not let us wet our beaks too?

Editorials: Poor Little Rich Guys: Supreme Court case to raise limits on campaign contributions | Dahlia Lithwick/Slate

The Supreme Court can hardly be faulted for having docketed McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission on the eighth day of a partial government shutdown that has all but crippled the national capital and separated hundreds of thousands of Americans from their jobs and paychecks. It’s unfair to blame the justices for the fact that Tuesday’s constitutional free-speech challenge comes to protect only the 1,219 wealthiest campaign donors, who in the 2012 election cycle reached or almost reached the limit on what they could contribute to federal candidates, parties, and political action committees in any two-year election cycle. This isn’t the 1 percent. It’s who the 1 percent dreams of becoming someday. The optics of having this particular fight this particular week are not terrific, an accident of scheduling that has Scrooge McDuck, Montgomery Burns, and Richie Rich ambling around the Supreme Court plaza on Tuesday, bemoaning the diminution of their voices in the national political conversation.

Editorials: The Long Shadow of Citizens United | Jesse Wegman/New York Times

Technically speaking, the Supreme Court’s controversial 2010 ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission was not up for reconsideration on Tuesday, when the court heard oral arguments in the first major case of its new term. But the shadow of that earlier decision lurked as the justices attempted to get to the heart of the current case, McCutcheon v. F.E.C., which is about whether overall political-contribution limits violate the First Amendment’s guarantee of free speech. (At least some of the limits appear to be in trouble.) In Citizens United, the court held that the First Amendment permitted unlimited campaign-related spending by corporations and labor unions, and not just individuals. The 5-member majority rejected arguments by the government and others that opening the door to a massive influx of corporate cash would lead to political corruption. Tuesday’s case, by contrast, involved federal limits on direct contributions to candidates and party committees. Since 1976, the court has held that limits on such contributions are constitutional, but limits on outside spending are not. Shaun McCutcheon, an Alabama businessman, sued the federal government after he ran up against the limits — currently set at $123,200 — and wanted to give more.

Editorials: Million Dollar Contributions Corrupt Democracy | Spencer Overton/Huffington Post

I attended today’s U.S. Supreme Court oral argument in the case challenging contribution limits. If the Justices rewrite campaign finance law by striking down the contribution limits, checks of up to $2.95 million each from wealthy contributors will corrupt democracy. During the 2012 election, Alabama businessman Shaun McCutcheon gave a total of over $113,000 spread out to various candidates, party committees, and PACs. Federal law prohibits McCutcheon (or any individual) from contributing over $2600 to any one candidate (per election), or over $32,400 to any one party committee (e.g., the National Republican Senatorial Committee). Federal law also has an aggregate limit–individuals cannot contribute a total of over $123,200 to all federal candidates, parties, and PACs. In the case before the Supreme Court, McCutcheon argues that this aggregate $123,000 limit violates his First Amendment rights. The problem, however, is that striking down the $123,200 aggregate contribution limit would open the door to politicians soliciting checks of up to $2.95 million each. This would lead to massive quid pro quo corruption.

Editorials: Roberts: The ‘swing’ justice of election law | Joshua A. Douglas/Reuters

Tuesday’s oral argument in McCutcheon v. FEC, the latest high-profile campaign finance case, will likely generate familiar storylines about a fiercely ideological Supreme Court, where one justice drives the outcome of a close 5-4 decision. Public perception of the Supreme Court is that there are four conservatives, four liberals and Justice Anthony Kennedy in the middle — as the “swing” vote. But that’s wrong — at least where voting rights and campaign finance cases are concerned. Though Kennedy’s vote dictates some outcomes when the court is split 5-4 along ideological lines, another justice has been the driving force behind current election law jurisprudence. In this matter, it is truly Chief Justice John Roberts’s court. Since Roberts became chief justice in 2005, the court has issued 23 written opinions involving voting rights, redistricting or campaign finance. Roberts is the only justice who has been in the majority every time. In addition, he has written twice as many majority opinions in this field as any other justice — six, as compared to Kennedy’s three. Roberts has now written more than 25 percent of the election law decisions handed down since he joined the court.

Editorials: The Hidden Danger in the Supreme Court’s ‘McCutcheon’ Case | Lee Fang/The Nation

If the Supreme Court moves to strike down certain campaign finance limits this term, as many expect the Roberts Court will do, could the conservative majority also pave the way for dismantling a whole host of anti-bribery and campaign finance laws across the country? This week, when the court convenes for its new term, justices will hear oral arguments for McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, a case that challenges the aggregate contribution limits from individuals to traditional political committees. Conservative legal strategists, including one of the groups that successfully propelled the original Citizens United decision, would like to use the McCutcheon case to go beyond the issue at hand. Just as Citizens United morphed from a case about restrictions on corporate-funded campaign movies into a decision that removed limits on all corporate and union spending on campaign expenditures, right-wing attorneys are hoping to harness McCutcheon to redefine how the government regulates multiple forms of corruption. If the conservative legal groups are successful, the ramifications could be widespread.

Editorials: How Prisons Have Changed America’s Electoral Politics | Heather Ann Thompson/The Atlantic

What has it really cost the United States to build the world’s most massive prison system? To answer this question, some point to the nearly two million people who are now locked up in an American prison—overwhelmingly this nation’s poorest, most mentally ill, and least-educated citizens—and ponder the moral costs. Others have pointed to the enormous expense of having more than seven million Americans under some form of correctional supervision and argued that the system is not economically sustainable. Still others highlight the high price that our nation’s already most-fragile communities, in particular, have paid for the rise of such an enormous carceral state. A few have also asked Americans to consider what it means for the future of our society that our system of punishment is so deeply racialized.

Editorials: Why Florida’s renewed purge effort should stop | Tallahassee Democrat

The United States prides itself for its egalitarian democracy, a democracy inwhich the weight of one’s vote is the same whether you’re young or old, rich or poor, and regardless of race. No right is more fundamental to American citizenship than the right to vote. Yet if voting is a right for all eligible citizens, then it should not have to be earned, and re-earned, over and over again. This is exactly what Florida risks, however, with Gov. Rick Scott’s renewed call for categorically removing alleged noncitizens from its voter rolls. Secretary of State Ken Detzner is creating a new list of suspected noncitizen voters by cross-checking the Department of Homeland Security System Alien Verification for Entitlements Program (SAVE) database with the state voter data. Given the long lines of citizens waiting to vote, Florida officials should know by now that voting is taken very seriously here. Yet this renewed call for another purge of alleged noncitizens shows the rest of the country that Florida is where rights become privileges.

Editorials: Voter ID Proponents Muddy the Waters With Misleading Georgia and North Carolina Turnout Numbers | Rob Richie/Huffington Post

The Justice Department announced this week that it will sue North Carolina over its new restrictive voting law. Although the law wiped out a range of pro-democracy measures, including FairVote priorities like instant runoff voting for judicial vacancies and voter pre-registration for young people, the lawsuit will focus specifically on the shortening of early voting periods and the requiring of government-issued photo identification in order to vote, policies the Justice Department claims illegally discriminate against racial minorities. The Civitas Institute, a North Carolina group founded by the controversial Art Pope, which had great influence in designing the law and has long pushed for strict voter ID requirements, has been highly critical of the prospective lawsuit. In a blog post this week, the organization’s election policy analyst Susan Myrick (not to be confused with former North Carolina Congresswoman Sue Myrick) claimed that the effects of restrictive voting laws on racial minorities are overblown. Unfortunately Myrick used a misleading statistic in her blog post and ignored many others that contradict her argument, just as Civitas president Francis De Luca did when he testified last spring before the North Carolina state legislature in favor of voter ID.

Editorials: Limiting Contributions to Candidates Deters Corruption | Rick Hasen/NYTimes.com

For almost 40 years, since the 1976 Buckley v. Valeo decision, the Supreme Court has treated limits on campaign contributions to candidates, parties and committees more permissibly than limits on independent campaign spending when challenged on First Amendment grounds. As to contribution limits, the court’s “standard of review” has been rather lax, and most contribution limits are upheld. Spending limits are subject to “strict scrutiny,” and courts usually strike them down. Senator Mitch McConnell wants the Supreme Court in McCutcheon v. F.E.C. to overturn part of Buckley and to apply that strict standard to review of contribution limits, meaning most of them would fall too. It’s a bad idea. The closer the money comes to the hands of members of Congress, the greater the danger of corruption and undue influence of big donors.

Editorials: Campaign spending caps hurt democracy | Shaun McCutcheon/Politico.com

As a businessman from Birmingham, Ala., I could never imagine winding up where I am today. Yet here I am, the lead plaintiff in a case going before the U.S. Supreme Court this week — McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission. I expected to be focused more than full time on growing the electrical engineering firm I started from scratch 17 years ago. But when the federal government threatens your most fundamental constitutional rights — and your freedom of speech — it’s time to take a stand and get into politics. Here’s what happened: As an activist, I naturally want to donate to candidates who share my views. I was doing just that during the 2010 election cycle when an Alabama GOP committee warned I might be nearing my contribution limit. Contribution limit? That was news to me. It turns out that decades ago, Congress put a cap on two kinds of campaign giving: how much you can donate to individual candidates and committees and how much you can give in total when you add all your donations to various candidates and committees, the so-called aggregate limit. Since then, aggregate limits have become too complex and time consuming to understand, both in terms of what they are and what they really do — help incumbents self-regulate and get perpetually reelected.

Editorials: The Great Gerrymander of 2012 | Sam Wang/New York Times

Having the first modern democracy comes with bugs. Normally we would expect more seats in Congress to go to the political party that receives more votes, but the last election confounded expectations. Democrats received 1.4 million more votes for the House of Representatives, yet Republicans won control of the House by a 234 to 201 margin. This is only the second such reversal since World War II. Using statistical tools that are common in fields like my own, neuroscience, I have found strong evidence that this historic aberration arises from partisan disenfranchisement. Although gerrymandering is usually thought of as a bipartisan offense, the rather asymmetrical results may surprise you. Through artful drawing of district boundaries, it is possible to put large groups of voters on the losing side of every election. The Republican State Leadership Committee, a Washington-based political group dedicated to electing state officeholders, recently issued aprogress report on Redmap, its multiyear plan to influence redistricting. The $30 million strategy consists of two steps for tilting the playing field: take over state legislatures before the decennial Census, then redraw state and Congressional districts to lock in partisan advantages. The plan was highly successful.

Editorials: Quit Blaming Gerrymandering for the Shutdown | Nate Cohn/New Republic

You don’t have to look far to find people diagnosing gerrymandering as the source of all of our nation’s woes, including (but surely not limited to) the shutdown. From this perspective, Republicans are gerrymandered into districts so conservative that the GOP is held hostage by ultraconservative primary electorates. Even President Obama has blamed the GOP “fever” on gerrymandering. These concerns are not totally misplaced. Gerrymandering is undemocratic, and it did help consolidate the GOP’s House majority in 2012. But, as I’ve written before, the significance of gerrymandering is exaggerated. Republicans are in safe districts for an incredibly simple reason: Most of the country just isn’t competitive. Take Texas, a famously gerrymandered state. If you want to create competitive districts, you don’t have many great options. Of the state’s 254 counties, 244 were won by either Obama or Romney by at least 10 points. That’s not how it used to be: Back in 1996, 92 counties were within 10 points. Perhaps unsurprisingly, these non-competitive counties tend to be extremely Republican. A whopping 176 of Texas’ 254 counties voted for Romney by more than a 40 point margin (at least 70-30). 81 of those counties voted for Romney by at least 60 points (ie 80-20). So, even a fair map would create plenty of incredibly red, safe, ultraconservative districts.

Editorials: Time for corporations to disclose political donations | Lisa Gilbert/The Hill

Say you owned a business, and found out one of your employees was taking money out of the cash register and spending it on questionable ventures without telling you. You’d fire him, right? It’s a pretty clear-cut case of right and wrong. Now imagine that you aren’t allowed to know whether that employee is taking money out of your profits, or where the money is going. Sound unfair – and like a bad way to run a business? Sadly, that’s the case for shareholders – owners of the largest corporations in America – who’d like to know how their profits are being spent on political causes.  Now Sens. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) are holding a briefing to explain why shareholders’ need this information in their hands.

Editorials: Connecticut judge keeps candidates on ballot who had been thrown for a filing technicality | Hartford Courant

A judge’s decision to keep candidates of “Save Westport Now,” a minor party, on the November ballot rings the bell for democracy, giving that town’s voters greater choice. Stamford Superior Court Judge Kenneth Povodator’s ruling is a welcome precedent for at least a dozen other Connecticut cities and towns where third-party candidates have been thrown off municipal election ballots because of a filing technicality. Those candidates should be restored to the ballot, too. In East Hampton, for example, the Chatham Party’s 16 candidates — including four incumbents who make up the town council majority — have been disqualified and are forced to run write-in campaigns. That’s a travesty.

Editorials: It’s Not Citizens United | Charles Fried/New York Times

On Tuesday the Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, potentially the most significant federal campaign finance case since Citizens United in 2010. But while the court in Citizens United struck down — correctly, in my opinion — limits on independent campaign spending by individuals or organizations, the McCutcheon case is an attack on limits that should not be struck down: those on contributions made directly or indirectly to political candidates. The McCutcheon case was brought by the Republican National Committee and a contributor, Shaun McCutcheon. If they succeed, individuals will be able, in effect, to direct unlimited amounts of cash to the election campaigns of federal candidates — inviting corruption or the appearance of corruption, which the Supreme Court has consistently held justifies contribution limits. (I have filed an amicus brief in this case on behalf of Americans for Campaign Reform.)

Editorials: Eric Holder’s Big Voting-Rights Gamble | Abby Rapoport/The American Prospect

Just about everyone who goes through a musical-theater phase at some point falls in love with Sky Masterson of Guys and Dolls. In the movie version, Marlon Brando plays the gambler who will wager “sky high” stakes and finds himself singing “Luck Be a Lady” while rolling the dice to see if he gets the girl. Going all in may be what you’d expect in a fictional singing crapshooter, but it’s a bit more surprising in a U.S. attorney general. Eric Holder’s announcement Monday that the Justice Department was going to bring a lawsuit against North Carolina’s new and wide-sweeping election law, which includes a laundry list of voter restrictions and changes making it harder to vote, showcases just how high he’s willing to make the stakes when it comes to voting rights. His department is now going to be litigating two high-profile cases—one against a voter-ID law in Texas, and the other against the omnibus bill in North Carolina. The DOJ is also involved in a case to show that Texas’s redistricting maps intentionally discriminated. Some legal advocates say he’s taking the only logical course of action. Others say he’s going double or nothing.