If Buckley Fell

A First Amendment Blueprint for Regulating Money in Politics

E. Joshua Rosenkranz
Release Date: December 1, 1999

In 1976, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its opinion in Buckley v. Valeo, a decision best known for prohibiting spending caps in election campaigns. Nearly a quarter of a century later, the troubling fallout of the Buckley decision has become clear: a campaign finance system in which candidates spend more time raising money than attending to voter needs; in which monied interests are entitled to drown out everyone else’s voice; and in which the wealthy-or their friends-have a special claim to public office. As a result, the Buckley decision has come under increasingly harsh criticism, with many calling for its overturn.

This volume of essays, a project with the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, examines the possibilities if the Supreme Court were to undo its Buckley decision. Together, the contributors sketch a compelling and coherent vision of a First Amendment that tolerates greater regulation of the flow of money into elections, without sacrificing any of the First Amendment moorings that are so critical to a free society.

The book is anchored by two lead chapters-one by the world’s foremost constitutional philosopher, Ronald Dworkin of Oxford University and New York University School of Law, and another by a dean of the political science community, Frank Sorauf, the Regents’ Professor Emeritus at the University of Minnesota. The other contributors are Frederick Schauer, John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University; Burt Neuborne, Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law; Richard Briffault Columbia Law School; and Richard H. Pildes, University of Michigan Law School.