Tim Kuhner, new book

Kuhner’s Book Explores Death of Campaign Finance Reform

In his new book, Capitalism v. Democracy, Tim Kuhner, associate professor of law, writes how the U.S. Supreme Court has used economic ideology to strike down limits on money in politics.

Kuhner’s book explains how cases such as Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission and McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission corrupt not just democracy, but capitalism as well.

“In the age of high-priced campaigns, an elite class of donors and spenders, super PACS and increasing corporate political power have become the new normal in American politics,” Kuhner says. “Capitalism has taken over democracy and wealthy interests naturally have higher purchasing power.”

Kuhner contends the Supreme Court’s many attacks on campaign finance reform have turned democracy it into a system that favors the wealthy and marginalizes ordinary citizens. His book explores how the death of campaign finance reform has corrupted capitalism, permitting economic competition to be routed through political channels.

“Blame it on the Supreme Court,” Kuhner says. “No other court in the world today justifies plutocracy. State and federal legislatures have acted countless times to restore democratic integrity and a minimum degree of political equality, but the Supreme Court considers civic values a threat to its free-market Constitution.”

Capitalism v. Democracy (Stanford University Press, 2014) details Supreme Court decisions from 1976 to 2014. While Citizens United enabled the wealthiest sliver of Americans and their corporate vehicles to control the political speech environment, McCutcheon grants them control over parties, candidates and officeholders directly.

“The Roberts Court is the ideological architect of American plutocracy and crony capitalism. Its case law is full of bizarre free-market rhetoric that morphs democracy into a profitable market for economic expansion,” Kuhner says. “Should we celebrate that political parties and candidates are becoming less and less accountable to average Americans? Should we celebrate the fact that economic competition is increasingly corrupted by political favors?”

Kuhner is posing these questions to European audiences this summer, presenting his book in Madrid, Vienna, Budapest, Prague, Barcelona and Palma de Mallorca, Spain. He will tour U.S. cities in the fall.

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