31st December 2012
George Will spanks a Stanford law professor.
Karlan’s disdain for the Citizens United decision — which held that Americans do not forfeit their First Amendment rights when they choose to speak collectively through corporate entities — is muddled. She denounces “spending by outside groups” without explaining what they are outside of. Evidently she accepts the self-interested assumption of the political class — the parties and candidates — that elections are their property and independent participants are trespassers. Karlan approvingly quotes the unsubstantiated assertion of Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer — itself disdainful of elected officials to whom Karlan urges vast deference — that contributions “buy candidates’ allegiance.” She seems unaware that abundant social science demonstrates that contributors respond to candidates’ behavior, not the reverse. And when darkly warning about campaign contributions from corporations’ “management,” she seems unaware that much of the corporate political spending is by nonprofit advocacy corporations — Planned Parenthood, not Microsoft.
It is disappointing when a professor at one of the top law schools in the country is so ignorant and confused.
She concludes: “For if the justices disdain us, how ought we to respond?” Her pronoun radiates democratic sentimentality — “us” conflates the citizenry and Congress. Today, just 18 percent of the citizenry approves of Congress’s performance. What becomes of Karlan’s argument when the conservative justices’ distrust of Congress, for which she disdains them as anti-democratic, is exceeded by the public’s distrust of Congress?
Like most progressives, she has a Maoist view of democracy — democracy is only truly democracy when it agrees with the views of the Crust.