What are the First Amendment concerns raised by the new campaign-finance law?

Monday, November 18, 2002

Because of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1976 ruling in Buckley v. Valeo, all regulations affecting the money used in campaigns must be evaluated with the First Amendment in mind. This is because money used in campaigns, especially the money spent by candidates, directly or indirectly supports the expression of political views. As the Supreme Court said in Buckley, “Discussion of public issues and debate on the qualifications of candidates are integral to the operation of the system of government established by our Constitution. The First Amendment affords the broadest protection to such political expression.” Critics of the new law say it violates the First Amendment by sharply restricting the ability of political parties and other groups to convey their views about issues and candidates in elections.