Freedom of Speech: Campaign Finance

Buckley v. Valeo (1976)

“Reasonable restrictions” on individual, corporate, and group contributions to candidates were allowed; limits on campaign expenditures were unconstitutional since these placed “substantial and direct restrictions” on protected political expression. Read More.

Colorado Republican Federal Campaign Committee v. FEC (1996)

The Court ruled that campaign spending by political parties on behalf of congressional candidates could not be limited as long as the parties work independently of the candidates.

McConnell v. Federal Election Commission (2003)

Limitations on “soft-money” contributions and political advertisements were acceptable infringements of free speech because of the government’s interest in preventing corruption or the appearance of corruption in elections.

Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission (2010)

The Court struck down parts of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act, which put limits on corporate funding for campaigns from corporations and labor unions. The Court held that free speech was essential in a free society, and that speech was not less protected because the speaker was a corporation, labor union, or other organization. The Court upheld disclosure requirements for political advertising sponsors, and also kept in place a ban on direct contributions to candidates from corporations and unions.