Buckley Election Campaign Act on the grounds of its

Buckley v. Valeo was brought forth to the Supreme Court by a group of plaintiffs, including then- U.S. Senator James Buckley, then-former U.S. Senator Eugene McCarthy, the Conservative Party of New York, the New York Civil Liberties Union, and the likes of others. The plaintiffs argued against the Federal Election Campaign Act on the grounds of its merits, and they firmly believed that the principal provisions of the Federal Election Campaign Act violated the First Amendment. In 1976, the Supreme Court struck down various key provisions of the 1974 amendments to the FECA in Buckley v. Valeo. The Court eventually arrived at two important conclusions. First, it ruled that restrictions on individual financial contributions to political campaigns and candidates did not violate the First Amendment since the limitations of the Federal Election Campaign Act enhance the “integrity of our system of representative democracy” by safeguarding against wrongful practices. Second, the Court found that governmental restriction of independent expenditures in campaigns, the limitation on expenditures by candidates from their own personal or family resources, and the limitation on total campaign expenditures did violate the First Amendment. Since these practices do not necessarily enhance the potential for corruption that individual contributions to candidates do, the Court found that restricting them did not serve a government interest great enough to warrant a curtailment on free speech and association.First National Bank of Boston v. BellottiSimilar to the stance of Supreme Court’s ruling in Buckley v. Valeo, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the Massachusetts state statute in the First National Bank of Boston v. Bellotti case. The state statute at the time prohibited organizations from making contributions to influence the outcome of a vote that does not materially affect their assets and holdings. The National Bank of Boston, along with two other national banks and three corporations, argued that they should have the right to spend money to publicize their oppositions to a ballot initiative that would permit Massachusetts to implement a graduated income tax. In a five to four decision, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Massachusetts criminal statute. In overturning the decision of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, the Court held that the corporation’s speech was safeguarded by the first and fourteenth amendments. The Court found that freedom to speak did not depend upon the identity of the speaker. And, since the first amendment was said to protect not just the speaker but also “‘the stock of information from which members of the public may draw,” the Court noted that, especially where speech was related to “the process of governing,”‘ it could not be abridged absent a “compelling” state interest. The Court acknowledged the important state interest in “sustaining the active role of the individual citizen in the electoral process and thereby preventing diminution of the citizens’ confidence in government.”” However, the Court concluded that this interest was not sufficiently compelling to justify a restraint of the corporation’s first amendment rights. Another interest considered by the Court was that of protecting the rights of minority shareholders whose views might have been different from those aired by the corporation through its officers. That interest, in conjunction with others, also was not sufficiently compelling to justify the statute.Austin v. Michigan Chamber of CommerceIn Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce, the Supreme Court held that governments may restrict the right of corporations to make independent expenditures on behalf of political candidates. The Austin Court articulated a new constitutional standard for evaluating campaign finance regulation. Such regulation, the Court held, is constitutionally justified because of the distorting effects of corporate wealth on the marketplace of ideas. The Court’s decision to permit regulation on the basis of a speaker’s wealth and corporate form constitutes a significant departure from previous campaign finance jurisprudence and may well spark efforts to regulate other forms of speech on similar grounds. In 1985 leaders of the Michigan Chamber of Commerce, a nonprofit corporation, decided to use funds from the Chamber’s general treasury to place a newspaper advertisement urging voters to support a particular candidate in an upcoming special election to the Michigan State House. The advertisement would have violated Michigan campaign finance laws prohibiting the expenditures.of corporate funds in state candidate elections. Arguing that these restrictions were unconstitutional under the first and fourteenth amendments, the Chamber brought suit seeking injunctive relief against enforcement of the law in federal district court. The district court upheld the statute, but the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed on the ground that the restrictions violated the first amendment. A divided Supreme Court reversed the appellate court, holding the statute constitutional under both the first and fourteenth amendments. Justice Marshall, writing for a six-member majority, found that although the statute burdened political expression, it was constitutional because it was “narrowly tailored to further a compelling state interest.” Finally, the majority addressed the fourteenth amendment challenge to the statute. The Court noted that the same compelling state interests that supported the statute’s constitutionality under the first amendment applied to any equal protection analysis as well. Thus, Justice Marshall again rejected arguments that the statute’s restrictions were underinclusive in omitting unincorporated associations such as labor unions. Justice Marshall also dismissed arguments that the statute’s exemption for media organizations violated the equal protection clause.The new contribution and expenditure limitations, and other provisions of the Federal Election Campaign Act, were challenged in the landmark Supreme Court case, Buckley v. Valeo. In Buckley as elaborated above, the Court struck down substantial portions of the new regulatory scheme as unconstitutional constraints on first amendment freedoms of speech and association. In particular, the Buckley Court found that while government interests in campaign finance regulation justify limitations on campaign contributions, similar restrictions on independent expenditures do not outweigh individual and societal interests in free speech and the unimpeded exchange of political ideas. The rationale behind the Buckley Court’s distinction between contributions and independent expenditures was twofold. First, though firmly stating that all campaign-connected spending constitutes protected speech, the Court asserted that restrictions on independent expenditures “necessarily reduce the quantity of expression by restricting the number of issues discussed, the depth of their exploration, and the size of the audience reached.”‘ In contrast, the Court classified contributions as a significantly more symbolic form of speech, the limitation of which entails only marginal restrictions upon the contributor’s ability to communicate.The Court concluded that “although the Act’s contribution and expenditure limitations both implicate fundamental First Amendment interests, its expenditure ceilings impose significantly more severe restrictions on protected freedoms of political expression and association than do its limitations on financial contributions.” By far the more significant aspect of the Court’s analysis is its exploration of government interests that might justify limitations on campaign spending. Concerning restrictions on contributions, the Court had little trouble upholding the statute on the basis of its “primary purpose,” that of “limiting the actuality and appearance of corruption.” The Court reasoned that large contributions “given to secure a political quid pro quo from current and potential office holders” clearly threaten the integrity of representative democracy. Additionally, the Court expressed serious concern for “the impact of the appearance of corruption stemming from public awareness of the opportunities for abuse

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