Campaign Finance Case Study

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Campaign finance reformers would most like to see a cap placed on how much can be spent “independent” of campaigns just as there is a cap with how much can be contributed directly to a campaign. Unfortunately, Citizens United quashed any notion of spending caps because as previously stated the Court feels caps would inhibit free speech. Caps would help equalize the influence between the wealthy and the non-wealthy, and discourage bribery and extortion. Also, contribution limits would improve public political efficacy in the election process by reducing the presence of corruption, the appearance of corruption, and the appearance of inequality. Many Americans adhere to the idea that politicians and the political process are corrupt. Therefore, …show more content…
Public financing is generally provided as a lump sum and candidates who choose public financing are unable to spend more than they were initially allotted. As elections have become increasingly expensive this limit has become increasingly problematic and archaic. A trigger mechanism seeks to resolve this cap by triggering matching funds if “privately financed opponents or independent groups spent above a certain level (Ansolabehere, 2011). Arizona enacted a trigger mechanism and it was challenged in the Supreme Court. In Arizona Free Enterprise Club v Bennett the plaintiffs held that their speech was chilled because they knew they would not be able to outraise their competition. The Court agreed with their novel argument and struck down the provision because “trigger mechanism created a burden on the speech of independent groups and privately financed candidates” (Ansolabehere, 2011). This seems antithetical to the notion the current Court has put forth that more speech is better because the trigger mechanism engenders more spending (speech) from each side. Campaign finance reform advocates still have hope for the trigger mechanism because the decision in Arizona was “fairly narrow” and trigger funding public finance systems that have used “grants” or “small-donor” matching have not been challenged in court (Miller, …show more content…
Justice Kennedy has been the swing vote in many cases, but in regards to campaign finance reform, Kennedy has been a staunch ally of the conservative justices. These judges are of the belief that more money in campaigns is better because they view money as political speech. They strictly obey to the pluralistic model of politics in which more is better. However, this model limits electoral competition and campaigns are mostly won by those parties and groups that spend the most money. In that, the Court has failed and “. . . not served the ultimate purpose of the First Amendment. Rather, it has generally produced elections with one-sided political competition—a lecture, not a debate” (Ansolabehere, 2011). There are numerous arguments against the pluralistic ideology, yet, as the majority in the Court, they are able to adjudicate as they see fit. Campaign finance reformers may want to wait until the current makeup of the Court changes in their favor until bringing further cases to

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