Document Type

Article

Publication Date

1994

Disciplines

Constitutional Law | Courts | Law | Law and Politics

Abstract

The Federal Election Campaign Act limits the amount of financial support that political parties may give to candidates for federal office. Clarisa Long argues that these restrictions violate political parties' First Amendment rights of speech and association. Because the flow of money in the political process is a proxy for speech, the First Amendment requires that political actors have access to at least one unrestricted avenue of communication. While individuals' and PACs' First Amendment rights are protected because they may make unrestricted independent expenditures, parties do not have this opportunity. Courts have failed to protect party speech, rationalizing that the existence of corruption justifles First Amendment restrictions on political parties but not on other entities. Ms. Long argues that parties have unique political messages, that the corruption rationale is flawed as applied to parties, and that the harm arising from limiting party speech outweighs the benefits. She contends that reducing the existence of corruption can be accomplished more effectively through means that do not reduce the amount of speech within the political process, and proposes less restrictive alternatives to the current funding limitations.

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