Campaign Finance Regulation: The Resilence of the American Model
William D. Araiza
Professor of Law, Brooklyn Law School, US
About William D.
The author wishes to thank Thomas Baker and Arthur Hellman, the co-authors of his book, First Amendment Law: Freedom of Expression and Freedom of Religion (LexisNexis 2006 & 2010), for their stimulating discussions and critiques of the ideas contained in this article. Those ideas, and any faults they include, remain the sole responsibility of the author.
The current term of the United States Supreme Court, which began this past October, is notable for its concentration of cases testing the permissible scope of federal regulation of business. But if this term’s docket reflects the pressure faced by the American economic model – a model marked by lax regulation, faith in private choices and market outcomes, and toleration of large inequalities in results – then this term will likely also mark a reaffirmation of that model in the context of free expression. In September the Court held a rare off-schedule oral argument in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, a case that may result in significant changes in the constitutional status of American campaign finance law. Citizens United presents the Court’s emerging conservative majority with an opportunity to deregulate corporations’ campaign speech by finding restrictions on that speech to violate the First Amendment. Depending on the breadth of the Court’s holding, Citizens United may well result in the triumph of the American economic model in the context of the political marketplace exactly when that model is coming under severe strain on other fronts.