Editor's Note: This Essay is Part I of an exchange between Professors Seth Barrett Tillman and Zephyr Teachout on public corruption, policy, and the scope of the constitutional anti-corruption principle. Professor Teachout's response is forthcoming on the Colloquy this spring, and Parts III and IV of the exchange are forthcoming September 2012. For questions or comments about the exchange, or to enquire about submitting a contribution, please contact the Senior Colloquy Editor.
|Actually stable laws require a stable vocabulary . . . . Thus the magistrates of a state have a duty to see that names are not irresponsibly changed.
—Richard M. Weaver, Ideas Have Consequences (1948) **
The Constitution was intended to provide structural encouragements to keep the logic and language of society as a whole from becoming corrupt, representing a technical and moral response to what they saw as a technical and moral problem.
—Zephyr Teachout, The Anti-Corruption Principle (2009) ***
I. Why This Colloquy?
The test of great scholarship is whether it changes the way people think and the way people live. That is also true for legal academic scholarship. But, for legal academics, perhaps the greatest sign of scholarly achievement is judicial reliance upon our craftsmanship. By any measure, Professor Teachout's 2009 Cornell Law Review publication, The Anti-Corruption Principle, is a success. In 2010, one short year after publication, The Anti-Corruption Principle was relied upon by Justice Stevens in his Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission dissent, just as it was cited, disapprovingly, by Justice Scalia in his concurrence. If that was not enough of an accomplishment, The Anti-Corruption Principle has also been cited in practitioners' Supreme Court briefs, in other federal and state appellate and trial court briefs, and in more than thirty academic articles. Finally, The Anti-Corruption Principle has entered the public discourse: George Will excoriated Teachout's article in his nationally syndicated column. Now that is an achievement.