Campaign Finance Reform

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 is the balancing of two democratic ideals: the ability of individuals to exercise their right to free speech, and the avoidance of corrupt practices by contributors and candidates. An examination of these ideals, as well as the effectiveness of the current campaign finance system in upholding these ideas, will provide a basic framework for the deci…




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