Is Dancing Protected by the First Amendment?

Slate's weekly political roundtable.
April 4 2014 10:31 AM

The Live Nude Dancing at the Kitty Kat Lounge Gabfest

Listen to Slate’s show about the Supreme Court’s latest campaign finance case, GOP budget and tax reform plans, and the play Arguendo.

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On this week’s Slate Political Gabfest, Emily Bazelon, John Dickerson, and David Plotz discuss the Supreme Court campaign finance case McCutcheon v. FEC, GOP policy proposals from Paul Ryan and Dave Camp, and a new play based on a Supreme Court case about nude dancing.

Here are some of the links and references mentioned during this week’s show:

  • The Supreme Court ruled Wednesday in McCutcheon v. FEC that caps on the total amount of money an individual can contribute to political campaigns are unconstitutional.
  • The 1976 case Buckley v. Valeo established the idea that money counts as speech.
  • Dahlia Lithwick writes that Chief Justice John Roberts either doesn’t know or doesn’t care that money corrupts politics.
  • The Supreme Court just took a big step toward gutting campaign finance reform, Rick Hasen writes.
  • It's better to have individuals giving disclosed donations to an unlimited number of candidates than large chunks of money to shadowy, unaccountable PACs, Nate Persily writes in the New York Times.
  • This week Rep. Paul Ryan unveiled his budget plan, which would cut government spending by $5 trillion over the next decade.
  • Rep. Dave Camp is retiring after his tax reform plan was, in David’s words, “hung, drawn, quartered, and incinerated in napalm” by Camp’s fellow Republicans.
  • Ryan talked a big game about helping the poor, but his new budget plan would do the opposite, Jamelle Bouie writes.
  • Democrats will likely try to run against Ryan’s proposal.
  • This week’s Audible recommendation is Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant.
  • The play Arguendo, which Emily helped bring to the stage, is a dramatization of Barnes v. Glen Theatre Inc., a 1991 Supreme Court case about whether Indiana had the right to ban nude dancing.
  • If we stopped letting candidates dodge hypothetical questions, we might see them think on their feet the way Supreme Court justices do, John writes.

John chatters about Dan Diamond’s advice on avoiding the flu when you fly.

Emily chatters about Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s novel Americanah.

David chatters about the death of Jeremiah Denton, who confirmed that American POWs were being tortured in Vietnam by blinking in Morse code during a press conference.

Topic ideas for next week? You can tweet suggestions, links, and questions to @SlateGabfest. The email address for the Political Gabfest is (Email may be quoted by name unless the writer stipulates otherwise.)

Podcast production by Mike Vuolo. Links compiled by Rebecca Cohen.

Emily Bazelon was a Slate senior editor from 2005 to 2014. She is the author of Sticks and Stones.

John Dickerson is Slate's chief political correspondent and author of On Her Trail. Read his series on the presidency and on risk.

David Plotz is Slate's editor at large. He's the author of The Genius Factory and Good Book.


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