Religious Right Versus Campaign Finance

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JONATHAN CHAIT OCTOBER 28, 2010

Religious Right Versus Campaign Finance

You ever notice that, when conservatives want to challenge campaign finance laws, the plaintiff isn't the business lobby that's putting up the money but the more folksy religious right? Okay, maybe you haven't noticed. But Jesse Zwick has:

[I]f Citizens United served to free every interest group under the sun to spend increased cash advocating for candidates, why is it the social interest groups that have been so aggressive — and so successful — over the decades in bringing about that change? A look back at the long history of claims made by anti-abortion groups (and more recently, anti-gay marriage groups) against campaign finance laws reveals the groups have been aided by their ability to present themselves in court as a more sympathetic plaintiff than, say, the big business lobby. Driven by ideological rather than material interests, they were able to win major victories against campaign finance laws that have, intentionally or not, created opportunities for unlimited spending by some of the largest corporate interests in America. ...

“There’s an affinity between conservative Republicans and campaign finance deregulation, which has led to a lot of funding for people like Jim Bopp who already have an ideological agenda,” said Rick Hasen, an elections law professor at Loyola Law School. Indeed, one of Bopp’s greatest sources of funding emerged when Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) embraced Bopp and his cause of campaign finance deregulation and helped him set up his own nonprofit litigation center — the James Madison Center for Free Speech — in 1996, on which McConnell agreed to serve as the honorary chairman.

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posted in: jonathan chait

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