by Robert Maynard
Vermont’s political leaders have a track record of passing ill-advised legislation that results in costly lawsuits that do not stand up to constitutional scrutiny. This tendency prompted a Vermont Law School Professor to warn our legislators not to risk another campaign finance court battle, as related in this Vermont Digger article:
Constitutional law scholar Cheryl Hanna urged the House Government Operations committee on Friday to be cautious about instituting new campaign finance reforms.
Hanna, a well-known Vermont Law School professor, advised legislators on how they could best avoid potential lawsuits in light of recent federal court rulings, including a U.S. Supreme Court decision in 2007 that threw out Vermont’s attempts to curb campaign spending.
Not surprisingly, her warning seemed to fall of death ears: “Rep. Annie Mook, D-Bennington, told Hanna that other witnesses urged the committee to be “risky” and “brave” in instituting substantive oversight of money in politics.” Defending the state against lawsuits can be quite expensive, but it is easy to be “risky” and “brave” when it is the taxpayers’ money at state, rather than your own.