Columbia Experts on Campaign Finance Decision

Press contact:
James O’Neill 212-854-1584 Cell: 646-596-2935
Public Affairs office: 212-854-2650
June 26, 2008 (NEW YORK) – Columbia Law School Professors Richard Briffault, an expert on campaign finance law, and Nathaniel Persily, an expert on American politics and election law, can speak with reporters today on the U.S. Supreme Court’s 5-4 ruling in Davis v Federal Election Commission which invalidates the disclosure requirements and the contribution limits in the “Millionaires’ Amendment” to the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform law, which would have made it easier for candidates running against self-financing millionaires to raise money.
Briffault: “The decision stresses the First Amendment rights of the wealthy to spend their own funds, treats any help to the opponent of a self-financing millionaire as a burden on the millionaire's rights, and goes further than past cases in rejecting the value of equality in campaign finance law. It is an acceleration of the Court's turn against campaign finance reform, which began with the appointments of Justice Alito (who wrote the opinion) and Chief Justice Roberts. It is potentially a blow to public financing systems -- which were already undermined earlier this week by Barack Obama’s decision not to take presidential public funding.”
Briffault, who prepared a preview of the case for the American Bar Association, was executive director of the Special Commission on Campaign Finance Reform of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York from 1998-2000. Briffault, Columbia’s Joseph P. Chamberlain Professor of Legislation, is also an expert on state and local government law. He was assistant counsel to the Governor of New York from 1980-82.
Professor Briffault can be reached at 212-854-2638 or [email protected].
Nathaniel Persily said today’s decision, along with the Court’s ruling in District of Columbia v Heller, which struck down Washington, D.C.’s handgun ban, are emblematic of a trend towards judicial activism by striking down laws to promote conservative principles.
Nathaniel Persily, Professor of Law, can be reached on his cell at 917-570-3223 or at [email protected].
Nathaniel Persily, an expert on voting rights, election law, constitutional law, and American politics, has been a court-appointed expert for redistricting cases in Georgia, Maryland and New York, and has served as an expert witness or outside counsel in similar cases in California and Florida. He has an upcoming book on the Supreme Court.
Columbia Law School, founded in 1858, stands at the forefront of legal education and of the law in a global society. Columbia Law School joins traditional strengths in international and comparative law, constitutional law, administrative law, business law and human rights law with pioneering work in the areas of intellectual property, digital technology, sexuality and gender, and criminal law.