American Plutocracy

30 Pages Posted: 22 Mar 2015 Last revised: 11 Jun 2015

See all articles by Timothy K. Kuhner

Timothy K. Kuhner

University of Auckland, Faculty of Law

Date Written: March 20, 2015


This essay explores the linkages between economic inequality, political inequality, and money in politics. Said another way, it explores the linkages between Thomas Piketty, Gilens & Page, and campaign finance law. It argues that the U.S. Supreme Court has constructed and justified a new form of government called plutocracy. Campaign finance cases from Buckley (1976) to McCutcheon (2014) contain a series of constitutional principles that serve to increase political inequality and economic inequality. Those constitutional principles also serve as the "apparatus of justification" sought by Piketty, the justifications for inequality that might allow today's state of affairs to endure. This essay exposes those constitutional principles and their relationship to works by Piketty, Gilens, and Page. It also contains a summary of some key points from my book, Capitalism v. Democracy (Stanford University Press 2014).

Keywords: Campaign finance, money in politics, Piketty, Gilens, Page, McCutcheon, Citizens United, economic inequality, political inequality, Capitalism v. Democracy

Suggested Citation

Kuhner, Timothy K., American Plutocracy (March 20, 2015). King’s Law Journal, 2015 Vol. 26, No. 1, 1–32, Georgia State University College of Law, Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2015-13, Available at SSRN: or

Timothy K. Kuhner (Contact Author)

University of Auckland, Faculty of Law ( email )

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Auckland Mail Centre
Auckland, 1142
New Zealand


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