Money and the 2012 American Elections - 28 May 2012

Monday 28 May
12.30 – 2.00 pm
Faculty Common Room, Sydney Law School

Professor Richard H. Pildes, from New York University, will speak on: “Money and the 2012 American Elections”

The 2012 American presidential election has already seen an explosion not just in the amount of money being spent, but in the sources of that money and the new organizational forms that are quickly becoming dominant players in the electoral process. In particular, newly emergent organizations outside the formal political parties and the candidates’ campaigns known as “SuperPacs” have quickly come to be at least as important in raising and spending money as the parties and the campaigns themselves. These SuperPacs are a uniquely American phenomenon.

Nearly all commentary on these new organizations treats their emergence as having been caused by the Supreme Court’s controversial Citizens United decision, in which the Court held that corporations and unions have constitutional free speech rights to engage in unlimited electoral spending. This talk will take issue with that view. Despite the fact that these entities emerged directly in the aftermath of the Court’s decision, Citizens United is not the reason these organizations have exploded onto the electoral scene. The talk explores the question of why, among those critical of the rise of SuperPacs, there is such a strong temptation to view Citizens United as the “root of all evil” in the financing of American elections.

Professor Pildes is the Sudler Family Professor of Constitutional Law (Law, New York University). He and his co-authors created the law of democracy as a field of study in the law schools, and his scholarship focuses on legal issues concerning the design of democratic processes and government, as well as constitutional, administrative, and national-security law. He is the author of more than 50 major academic articles and is the co-author of the casebook, The Law of Democracy and a co-editor of the book, The Future of the Voting Rights Act.

Archived Events

30 March 2012 - 'Constitutional Recognition of Indigenous Australians', 1-2pm, LT 101 (first floor) New Law School Building. This is a free lunchtime session for staff and students at which CRU members will outline the recommendations of the Expert Panel on Constitutional Recognition of Indigenous Australians, explain what is controversial and why and discuss what will happen next.

19 May 2011 – ‘Constitutional Reform in the Twenty-First Century’, with the Hon Bob Carr and the Hon Senator George Brandis. Download the podcast