The Ninety-Nine Percent

Yesterday I began the unit on campaign finance in my election law seminar, and many of the students’ reaction papers pointed with admiration to a quote from John S. Shockley, Money in Politics: Judicial Roadblocks to Campaign Finance Reform, 10 Hastings Constitutional Law Quarterly 679 (1983), which appears in an annotated footnote in Buckley v. Valeo.  Here’s what John wrote:

If one agrees with the Court that being able to spend only $25,000 to $50,000 annually on campaigning is in fact a substantial restraint upon constitutional expression, what does this say about the rights of the ninety-nine percent of the American electorate who cannot expend even this ‘substantially restrained’ amount? Since their ability to speak is presumably restrained even more, where are they to look for the protection of their First Amendment rights?

It is good to know that John’s work has stood the test of time, and his 99% reference was entirely prescient!



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