The Supreme Court on Campaign Finance

Where's the Beef?

Whereas my previous posts have focused on a quantitative analysis of public policy, this post addresses the issue of campaign finance from a constitutional law standpoint. Over the past semester I’ve had the privilege of reading in detail many court cases through American history as a result of a class I took called Civil Liberties. Public policymaking requires an analysis of both the economic implications and the legal justification. In this post, I focus on the Supreme Court cases Buckley v. Valeo (1976) and Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission (2010), the latter of which overturned part of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (BCRA) of 2002.

Buckley was the first major Supreme Court case which dealt with campaign finance and political speech. There are several aspects of campaign finance that the Court addressed in Buckley: contributions by individuals and corporations to particular candidates, independent expenditures on behalf of a…

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