The Federalist Society

Is Money Speech?

Short Video

September 9, 2013

Eugene Volokh

"Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech."
--First Amendment, U.S. Constitution

What if the government said you could publish a newspaper, but only if you spend less than $1000. Or you could hire a lawyer to defend you in court, but only if it cost less than $1000. Why are these unconstitutional?

If Congress restricts independent spending on election-related speech, is that constitutional? 

Professor Eugene Volokh argues that such restrictions abridge the freedom  of speech. Some say “but money isn’t speech,” but Professor Volokh argues that this is both true and beside the point.  Money isn’t speech; speech is speech. But most effective speech costs money. Restricting spending of money for such speech disables speech and violates the First Amendment.

Do you agree?

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Related Links

Opinion - Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission - January 21, 2010 (PDF)
The First Amendment and Related Statutes: Problems, Cases and Policy Arguments


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