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Drafting Buckley v. Valeo: The Court, Liberty and Politics

The Supreme Court’s decision in Buckley v. Valeo, 424 U.S. 1 (1976)(per curiam) frustrates reformers who want to limit speech in campaign contexts. So, some advocates are calling for “overturning” Buckley – making a frontal assault on its free speech teachings to allow more invasive campaign finance regulations. Others take a more subtle approach, instead insisting that Buckley requires “updating” to reflect modern campaign practices unknown in the 1970s when the opinion was written. But some of their fundamental claims about the Courts’ alleged political naiveté do not withstand examination.