SCOTUS under Trump


Or if it is, so are the millions she’s getting from various groups. She wants the bribes in her favor, but not against her.


It’s illegal to offer a quid pro quo exchange to an elected official. That means offering a specific thing of value for a specific future official act.

You can say “Our lobby supports the proposed gun control bill”, and you can say “Based on his past record, we are not supporting candidate X this year”. You cannot say “We will donate $X to your reelection campaign if and only if you vote for Y next week”.

So, how about “We will donate $X to your opponent if and only if you vote for Y next week”. That’s going to be an interesting question. But there is precedent for courts to find that denying resources to a competitor is indeed valuable. We’ll see.

Finally, “What’s the big deal, everyone does it!” is basically the Blagojevich defense. It didn’t work.


A vote is a specific thing of value, and I reject the idea that saying to Susan Collins if you do X, I’ll vote for you, but if not, I won’t is a bribe. The absence of a primary challenger is a specific thing of value, and I reject the idea that saying if you do X, I’ll primary you is a bribe. Contributions to your opponents are not bribes. Endorsements of your opponents are not bribes.


A lot of conservative think tanks like Club for Growth or Heritage grade members on key votes. If those Republicans vote against their agenda, they get downgraded and lose PAC money. After the BK confirmation, Collins received money from Judicial Crisis Network.


OK, but when was the last time these think tanks made a statement before a vote to the effect of “Vote this way or else we will downgrade you”. I can’t think of any examples, it is always post facto.

The fact is that how you try to influence people matters. If you call the police in your neighbor’s loud party, and later remark “I wouldn’t have called the police if he had invited me!”, then you aren’t breaking the law. But if you say to your neighbor, “Invite me to your next loud party or I will call the police on you” then that is a clear case of extortion.

And when it comes to influencing public officials, the level of scrutiny is much higher. If you could legally spend $4 million to openly influence an upcoming vote merely by promising it to an opponent, then I’m surprised nobody tried it until now.


It took literally 5 seconds to find this.

Five seconds later got me this:


You kind of made my point for me. Both letters are phrased in a way that carefully avoid a specific promise. Neither one says, “Do this, or we will reduce your grade to F”. They are both to the effect of, “Do this, or we will consider this in the future when we issue our grading in the future.” Why beat around the bush?


The Club for Growth example is particularly irrelevant. They want candidates to refrain from endorsing Trump. But endorsement is not an official act, so it cannot be subject to bribery.


That’s making lemonade from lemons. This kind of threat is routine. Why not spend some time looking into it (which you clearly didn’t) before making broad pronouncements about it?


If it is routine, then surely you can find an example that actually contradicts me.


The first example does contradict you. Why not do your own search? I can’t be bothered to accommodate your shifting goalposts.


It is simply insane to suggest that the public can not tell its representatives what they will do if they don’t represent them how they would like.


Conversely, I’m perfectly free to tell my representative that I will donate to his or her campaign if he/she represents me how I would like.


You mean the NRA letter that reminded legislators that they would be reviewed in the future? And that they were changing their review criteria? But didn’t actually promise anyone any specific thing? No, that doesn’t count for precisely the reason I discussed above.

Go ahead and find another example of someone promising $X before a vote, if you think this is routine.


The actual punishable crime is so narrow as to be virtually unenforcable, for exactly the reasons magnet is explaining. Bribery is essentially fine, as long as it’s limited to a wink and a nudge, and you don’t say, “if you vote like this you will get money.”


If you tell your representative, “If you vote Yes on this upcoming bill then I will donate $1000 to your campaign”, you are breaking the law and it’s not even controversial.


Funny how that’s exactly what has been driving money into politics for decades, and yet this one is wrong.


You have to draw the line somewhere.

And honestly I don’t think it’s that confusing. Specifics matter, all the time. There is a huge legal difference between saying “I would love to find someone who could mow my lawn” and “I will pay you $50 to mow my lawn next Saturday”. The former could never get you into legal trouble, the latter might.


This correct. A lot of people think it sucks and we all know what it really means, but this why we have courts, judges, and lawyers. What seems logical and intuitive to the layman is not always enforceable.


Yet lawyers quoted in the article disagree with your view. Maybe it’s a bit more complicated.

Trump threatened GOP members of Congress to vote for the ACA repeal bill or he would endorse their primary opponents. That’s a thing of value (his endorsement) in exchange for an official act. Bribery?

We Will Replace You, a leftist group, threatened blue dog Senators with primary campaigns if they did not e.g. vote against every Trump nominee. That’s a thing of value (no primary opponent) in exchange for an official act. Bribery?


I was responding to Banzai, who referred to run-of-the - mill advocacy.

With regards to Collins, ie donating to an opponent, the matter is indeed complicated. Lawyers have weighed in on both sides. Like I said, it’s an interesting question and we’ll see how it shakes out. Anyone who thinks it’s a foregone conclusion, on either side, is kidding themselves.

LOL, your argument amounts to “Trump did it so it must be legal.”


Really? I thought those were examples which fit your frame, and offered them for you to consider and respond to.