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Summary of the 1976 U.S. Supreme Court's Ruling in Buckley v. Valeo

The world of politics law has been largely shaped by the 1976 Supreme Court decision in Buckley v. Valeo. In that decision, the Court held, many believe mistakenly, that money is speech. While it upheld a provision of the Federal Election Campaign Act regarding limits on campaign contributions from individuals and political action committees, it struck down limits on overall expenditures, limits on so-called "independent expenditures," and limits on expenditures by candidates from personal resources as infringements on the rights of free speech. This single legal decision has shaped the thinking and stymied the enactment of campaign finance reform. Left unchallenged, this ruling has single-handedly distorted our thinking about reform options.

Excerpt from The Wealth Primary: Campaign Fundraising and the Constitution, by Jamin B. Raskin and John Bonifaz.