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It should have come as no surprise that the Supreme Court would strike down the lower court decision to uphold Montana’s ban on corporate political spending. Even if Justice Anthony Kennedy, say, had been taken aback by the public reaction to his flawed opinion in Citizens United, it is extremely rare for the Court to directly reverse itself. The more likely outcome, if the Court had taken the case rather than simply reversed the lower court’s decision, would have been that it might move even further in the direction of Citizens United – for example, by indicating that it would reconsider prohibitions on direct contributions from candidates. As Rick Hasen of the Election Law Blog commented yesterday, “The best way to win before the Roberts Court if you are a campaign reformer (aside from on disclosure issues) is not to play.”

What does it mean “not to play”? It doesn’t mean giving up on everything. And it shouldn’t mean pursuing the even more futile path of a constitutional amendment to reverse Citizens United. Rather, it means getting over the obsession with corporate money, which plays a small role in federal elections and Super PACs, and getting refocused instead on the broader question of the ways in which political inequality reinforces economic inequality. To put CU in perspective, corporate money (mostly from privately held companies) represents only 17 percent of contributions to Super PACs, and Super PACs represent, so far, only about 10 percent of the total money in federal politics. That’s not to dismiss the issue or the cases, but corporate political spending is only one part of the story of how money distorts democracy.

While Citizens United and the somewhat more important SpeechNow case have certainly brought in a new atmosphere of “anything goes” to money in politics, there are answers that don’t involve waiting around for one of the five conservative justices on the Court to retire. One, of course, is generous public financing, such as New York City’s system, which provides a six-to-one match on small contributions. State legislators and Governor Cuomo have been pushing to extend the city system to the state level. Everywhere that similar public financing systems have been put in place (Arizona, Connecticut, Maine) they have been popular, resilient, constitutionally sound, and have broadened the role of small contributors and brought new candidates into the process.

The recent court decisions have also opened new opportunities for Congress and state legislatures to require the disclosure of donors to outside groups as well as to candidates. Law professor Ciara Torres-Spelicy recently described this move as a “dramatic 180 degree turn…on the issue of the constitutionality of disclosure.” Disclosure doesn’t solve all problems, but a big part of the story of money in politics post-Citizens United is the creation of political entities, such as Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS, that are not Super PACs but instead use a section of the tax code for non-profits to avoid limits and also maintain anonymity for donors. This could be fixed by the IRS (these non-profits are not supposed to have election activity as their primary purpose) or by Congress, without the slightest constitutional problem.

While Hasen is right that it would be futile to keep knocking on the door of the Supreme Court, hoping that they’ve changed their mind, there’s a lot of work to be done, and a lot of progress that can be made, without involving the Court at all.

Mark Schmitt is a Senior Fellow at the Roosevelt Institute.

Cross-Posted From The Roosevelt Institute’s Next New Deal Blog

The Roosevelt Institute is a non-profit organization devoted to carrying forward the legacy and values of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt.

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany

White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany was forced to defend President Donald Trump's recent attacks on MSNBC host Joe Scarborough on Tuesday, an unenviable task she nevertheless intentionally signed up for. She desperately tried to divert the attention back to Scarborough — without engaging in the president's conspiracy theorizing — but offered no credible defense of the president's conduct.

Trump has been spreading the debunked theory that Scarborough killed a staffer in 2001 while he was in Congress, even though it was determined she died of natural causes. The staffer's widower wrote a released a letter on Tuesday pleading with Twitter to take down the president's offensive tweets promoting the thoery. He said he was "angry," "frustrated," and "grieved" by the president's promotion of the harmful allegations. Trump is perverting his late wife's memory, he said, and he fears her niece and nephews will encounter these attacks.When asked about the letter, McEnany said she wasn't sure if the president had seen it. But she said their "hearts" are with the woman's family "at this time." It was a deeply ironic comment because the only particularly traumatizing thing about "this time" for the family is the president's attacks, which come nearly two decades after the woman's death.

McEnany refused to offer any explanation of Trump's comments and instead redirected reporters to a clip of Scarborough on Don Imus's radio show in 2003. In that show, Imus made a tasteless joke obliquely referring to the death, and Scarborough laughed at it briefly.

"Why is the president making these unfounded allegations?" asked ABC News' Jonathan Karl. "I mean, this is pretty nuts, isn't it? The president is accusing someone of possible murder. The family is pleading with the president to please stop unfounded conspiracy theories. Why is he doing it?""The president said this morning, this is not an original Trump thought. And it is not," she said, bringing up the Imus clip. But she made no mention of why the president is bringing up the issue 17 years later and with a much larger platform.

When pressed further on the president's conduct, she again diverted blame to Scarborough, saying his morning show unfairly criticizes the president. But again, she offered no substantive defense of Trump.

After McEnany had moved on, PBS reporter Yamiche Alcindor brought it up again: "Why won't the president give this widower peace and stop tweeting about the conspiracy theory involving his wife?"

McEnany said she had already answered the question, which she hadn't, and said the onus is on Scarborough to explain the Imus clip."The widower is talking specifically about the president!" Alcindor shot back. But McEnany called on Chanel Rion, with the aggressively pro-Trump outlet OAN, who changed the subject to conspiracy theories about the origins of the Russia investigation.

"Are you not going to answer that?" Alcindor called out, still trying to get a substantive response to her question, but Rion spoke over her.

At the end of the briefing, another reporter asked whether Trump was looking for any actual law enforcement steps be taken in response to his conspiracy theory. But McEnany had nothing to add, and simply told people to listen to the Imus clip again. As she hurried out of the briefing room, a reporter asked if Trump would stop promoting the theory — but she left without answering.

Watch the exchange about Klausutis, which begins at 48:45.