Election Law Case Comment

Beyond the Discrimination Model on Voting

Vol. 127 No. 1 Retirement with dignity was denied to section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (VRA). If ever a statute rose to iconic status, a superstatute amid a world of ordinary legislation, it was the VRA. In the course of not quite half a century, the Act was pivotal in bringing black Americans to the broad currents of political life – a transformation that shook the foundations of Jim Crow, triggered the realignment of partisan politics, and set the foundation for the election of an African American President.
First Amendment: Speech Case Comment

On Political Corruption

Response to Corruption, Clients, and Political Machines
Vol. 124 No. 1 In On Political Corruption, Professor Samuel Issacharoff revisits the central paradigm of the country’s now-frayed campaign finance regulation regime by presenting two competing concepts of corruption. One concept is based on Buckley’s declaration that preventing the possibility or appearance of quid pro quo corruption constitutes a sufficient government interest to regulate political speech, and on Citizens United’s holding that the quid pro quo corruption interest is now the only interest that justifies imposition on the First Amendment in this area. The other concerns ensuring the integrity of the outputs of government policy. He argues that it is this possibility of subverting public goals to the whims of powerful special interests – rather than changing the outcomes of elections – that we should be most concerned about. Professor Issacharoff concludes with an appeal to rethink the incentive structures of our current system in order to formulate appropriate and coherent campaign finance reforms in the wake of Citizens United.
Civil Rights Article

Fragile Democracies

Vol. 120 No. 6 Democratic regimes around the world find themselves besieged by antidemocratic groups that seek to use the electoral arena as a forum to propagandize their causes and rally their supporters. Virtually all democratic countries respond by restricting the participation of groups or political parties deemed to be beyond the range of tolerable conduct or viewpoints. The proscription of certain views raises serious problems for any liberal theory in which legitimacy turns on the democratic consent of the governed. When stripped down to their essentials, all definitions of democracy rest ultimately on the primacy of electoral choice and the presumptive claim of the majority to rule. The removal of certain political views from the electoral arena limits the choices that are permitted to the citizenry and thus calls into question the legitimacy of the entire democratic enterprise.