McConnell v. Federal Election Commission

May 1, 2003 • Legal Briefs
By Erik S. Jaffe

This case called into question the constitutionality of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002, often referred to as the McCain‐​Feingold Act. Campaign finance reform has long been a contentious political issue, with supporters claiming that the reform is necessary for the continued function of our democratic process and detractors instead arguing that the proposed reforms constitute a violation of First Amendment rights. This brief, joined by the Institute for Justice, takes a strong stand against McCain‐​Feingold, arguing that the current system of campaign finance regulations is neither coherent nor predictable, and that it infringes on core First Amendment activities. The foundational case of Buckley v. Valeo failed to provide applicable guidelines for determining the legality of campaign contributions and instead created a complex network of criteria that have been applied inconsistently. This brief advocates that Buckley be overruled and replaced with a more speech‐​protective regime, which, by protecting First Amendment rights, would resolve the majority of the conflicts related to McCain‐​Feingold.

About the Author
Erik S. Jaffe