St. Mary's Law Journal


Campaign finance remains a perennial issue, because contributions and expenditures define the political campaigns which shape our democracy. While a majority of the American public supports limiting campaign spending, campaign finance reform remains near the bottom of most voters’ priorities. Reformers have called the lack of the public’s interest “[o]ne of the persistent mysteries of campaign finance reform.” Citizens United v. F.E.C. focused national attention on the role of money in politics. Citizens United evoked such strong reactions, because it represents the two competing versions of the concept of freedom of speech: “free speech as serving liberty” and “free speech as serving equality.” The case created tension between legal thinkers who accept the Court’s narrow framing of the government’s compelling interest and those who believe the Court should recognize the government has other compelling interests which support regulation of speech. The Founding Fathers sold the Constitution on the promise that every qualified American may seek to govern their democracy. Unfortunately, the massive influx of money into the political system, due largely to Citizens United, has made it nearly impossible for the average American to seek federal office. Congress must correct the course to bring laws back into alignment with that vision.


St. Mary's University School of Law