Essay about Campaign Finance Reform

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Campaign finance reform has a broad history in America. In particular, campaign finance has developed extensively in the past forty years, as the courts have attempted to create federal elections that best sustain the ideals of a representative democracy. In the most recent Supreme Court decision concerning campaign finance, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the Court essentially decided to treat corporations like individuals by allowing corporations to spend money on federal elections through unlimited independent expenditures. In order to understand how the Supreme Court justified this decision, however, the history of campaign finance in regards to individuals must be examined. At the crux of these campaign finance laws…show more content…
Furthermore, these laws are particularly important because they deal with discussion of public issues and debate on the qualifications of candidates. This sort of speech allows citizens to make an informed decision about which candidate they will elect. This is crucial to the operation of the government, for those who are elected will shape the nation in a profound way. As legal scholar Alexander Meiklejohn argued when explaining the necessity of protecting political speech, “self-governance can only exist insofar as the voters acquire the intelligence, integrity, sensitivity, and generous devotion to the general welfare that, in theory, casting a ballot is assumed to express.” For these reasons, the ability to spend money on elections is essential to the First Amendment, as it allows for the communication of ideas and opinions that are crucial to democracy. The need to protect this first amendment right, however, is balanced against the need to avoid corruption in federal elections. The Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 (FECA) attempted to revamp the structure of campaign finance, particularly dealing with eliminate corrupt uses of campaign contributions. Money in the form of a contribution can easily be seen as a bribe, or an attempt to influence a candidate in the contributor’s favor. FECA required
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