Professor Hasen will present a chapter from his current book project, currently entitled 'Money, Politics and the Decline of American Democracy' (Yale University Press 2016). The remit of the book is as follows:

For forty years, the Supreme Court has distorted the debate about money and politics. It has held that campaign finance laws could withstand challenge as a violation of the First Amendment’s freedom of speech only to prevent “corruption” or its appearance. It has repeatedly held that the government’s interest in promoting political equality is “wholly foreign to the First Amendment.”

The focus on “corruption” explains the shifting nature of the Court’s approach as liberals read the term broadly and conservatives read it narrowly: witness the new Citizens United era of unlimited spending and Super PACs.

Citizens United would be bad enough in normal times. But these are not normal times. Thomas Piketty, Martin Gilens, and others have shown that we are in a period of rising economic inequality. The Roberts Court is allowing the wealthy to transform vast economic power into political power—raising the danger not of “corruption” but of profound political inequality. This book argues that we can limit money in politics to promote equality without squelching robust political debate. It offers a new plan to rescue our politics from its movement toward oligarchy.


A copy of the paper can be obtained by contacting Stephen Dimelow at