A panel of legal experts, including the lawyers who argued the Citizens United case in front of the Supreme Court, asks if the very nature of democracy is for sale. They discuss the impact of money in politics and the pros and cons of campaign finance regulation. The panelists are Theodore Olson, Seth Waxman, Cleta Mitchell, and Lawrence Lessig, with moderator Jane Mayer.
Lawrence Lessig is one of our most respected voices on the legal, political, and cultural implications of digital technology. Currently the Roy L. Furman Professor of Law and Leadership at Harvard Law School, Lessig founded Creative Commons in 2001 to reboot our antiquated copyright system. He is also the director of Harvard’s Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics and the founder of Rootstrikers, an activist network working to reduce the influence of money in politics. In 2000, as a professor at Stanford, he founded the school’s Center for Internet and Society. Lessig is the author of numerous books, including Code: And Other Laws of Cyberspace; The Future of Ideas: The Fate of the Commons in a Connected World; Remix: Making Art and Commerce Thrive in the Hybrid Economy; and Republic, Lost: How Money Corrupts Congress—and a Plan to Stop It. A member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Philosophical Association, he has received numerous honors and was named one of the world’s “Top 50 Visionaries” by Scientific American.
Jane Mayer has been a staff writer at The New Yorker since 1995. Her honors include the John Chancellor Award for Excellence in Journalism and a George Polk Award. Her most recent book is "The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned Into a War on American Ideals."
Cleta Mitchell is a partner with Foley & Lardner L.L.P. in Washington, D.C. She has represented the National Rifle Association and the national Republican Senate and House campaign committees, and has testified before Congress on election law, campaign finance, and lobbying. She was named one of Washington’s 25 Most Influential Women by the National Journal and is included in "Best Lawyers in America."
Theodore B. Olson
Theodore B. Olson is a partner in Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher's Washington, D.C. office, a member of the firm's Executive Committee and founder of the Appellate and Constitutional Law and Crisis Management Practice Groups. Mr. Olson was Solicitor General of the United States during the period 2001-2004. From 1981-1984, he was Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Office of Legal Counsel in the U.S. Department of Justice. Except for those two intervals, he has been a lawyer with Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher in Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. since 1965.
Seth Waxman was Solicitor General of the United States from 1997 to 2001 and currently chairs the Appellate and Supreme Court Litigation Practice Group at Wilmer Hale. He has argued more than sixty cases before the Supreme Court, including Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, Boumediene v. Bush, and Roper v. Simmons.
Lawrence Lessig argues that America's current system of unlimited political campaign contributions is corrupt. Campaign financing is concentrated among too few people, which makes politicians overly dependent on these donors and undermines the very nature of democracy.