Magazine June 7, 2010, Issue

Disclosed Partisanship

Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan meets with Sen. Al Franken (D., Minn.) on Capitol Hill in Washington, May 18, 2010. (Jim Young/Reuters)
An unfair and unnecessary campaign-finance ‘reform’

In February 1996, then–White House aide and current Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan co-authored a memorandum to deputy chief of staff Harold Ickes regarding whether President Clinton should support proposed amendments to the McCain-Feingold campaign-finance bill.

The first amendment was to weaken the bill’s ban on “bundling” of contributions. The memorandum’s analysis of the proposal begins: “We have no data on which party benefits more from bundling practices.” The second amendment was to limit out-of-state contributions to candidates. The memo’s analysis begins: “The [limit] may hurt Democratic senatorial candidates.” In other words, the memo evaluated the amendments not on the basis

Bradley A. Smith is chairman of the Institute for Free Speech and the Blackmore/Nault Professor of Law at Capital University. He served on the Federal Election Commission from 2000 to 2005.

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