That Time Scalia Endorsed Political Equality for Campaign Finance Limits, Sorta

As I noted in this commentary for Politico magazine, Justice Scalia first voiced his opposition to campaign finance limits in the Austin case, in a passionate and well-argued (if ultimately wrong-headed) dissent. But before that, when Scalia was a young Justice, things were different. As I explained in my 2003 book, The Supreme Court and Election Law, the Austin rationale started as dicta by Justice Brennan in the MCFL case of 1986, advancing the idea that for profit political spending should not be disproportionate to the public’s support for the corporation’s political ideas. Both Justice Powell, who rejected spending limits in Buckley, and Justice Scalia joined in that opinion. I remember finding a note in the case file at the Library of Congress signed “Nino” to that effect:

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