Buckley v. Valeo

Fact Box

Buckley v. Valeo
Appellee: Valeo
Appellant: Buckley
Consolidation: No. 75-437

Decision: 7 votes for Buckley, 1 vote against
Facts of the Case 

In the wake of the Watergate affair, Congress attempted to ferret out corruption in political campaigns by restricting financial contributions to candidates. Among other things, the law set limits on the amount of money an individual could contribute to a single campaign and it required reporting of contributions above a certain threshold amount. The Federal Election Commission was created to enforce the statute.

Question 

Did the limits placed on electoral expenditures by the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971, and related provisions of the Internal Revenue Code of 1954, violate the First Amendment's freedom of speech and association clauses?

Conclusion 
Decision: 7 votes for Buckley, 1 vote(s) against
Legal provision: Article 2, Section 2, Paragraph 2: Appointments Clause

In this complicated case, the Court arrived at two important conclusions. First, it held that restrictions on individual contributions to political campaigns and candidates did not violate the First Amendment since the limitations of the FECA enhance the "integrity of our system of representative democracy" by guarding against unscrupulous practices. Second, the Court found that governmental restriction of independent expenditures in campaigns, the limitation on expenditures by candidates from their own personal or family resources, and the limitation on total campaign expenditures did violate the First Amendment. Since these practices do not necessarily enhance the potential for corruption that individual contributions to candidates do, the Court found that restricting them did not serve a government interest great enough to warrant a curtailment on free speech and association.

Source

  • http://www.oyez.org/cases/1970-1979/1975/1975_75_436#sort=ideology
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