Money talks, but should all limits on campaign expenditures be viewed as in violation of the First Amendment? Yes–according to the Supreme Court in Buckley v. Valeo, a 1976 decision that has dealt death blows to reform efforts in states and cities across the country. More than political resistance or public apathy, Buckley is emerging as the real obstacle to meaningful reform of what everyone now recognizes is an unacceptable way of financing elections. But a group of some of the nation’s leading litigators, law professors, and reform advocates, assembled by the Twentieth Century Fund/Century Foundation, says we don’t have to live with this ruling forever.
Buckley Stops Here reflects the deliberations and recommendations of the Twentieth Century Fund/Century Foundation Working Group on Campaign Finance Litigation. It describes how a system that leaves campaign spending virtually unfettered can corrupt politicians, undermine public confidence in government, deny citizens equality, and prevent representatives from doing their jobs. It offers a blueprint for a strategic campaign–consisting of litigation, scholarship and public education–that can change the legal landscape and convince the Supreme Court to modify Buckley so as to permit limits on campaign expenditures.
This lively and readable report explains how the Buckley decision rested on presumptions that have proven to be untrue, how factual circumstances have changed radically since Buckley, and how legal arguments have been developed that the Court never considered. It then goes on to offer a step-by-step strategy for a campaign finance reform effort that can withstand a Buckley challenge. This book will be an invaluable resource to litigators and lawmakers, to public policy professionals and journalists, and to anyone interested in the health of our democracy.