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Buckley v. Valeo

    Brief Fact Summary. State regulated the amount citizens could contribute to political campaigns.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law. Restricting campaign expenditure is an unconstitutional restriction of political speech. But limiting contribution amounts is constitutional because donation is conduct and not speech.

    Facts. There is a federal regulation that limits the amount of money an individual can give to political candidates. It also imposes an overall donation limit. Valeo (Respondent) claims that the state regulation is limiting political conduct while Buckley (Petitioner) believes that the federal regulation is limiting political speech.

    Issue. Is the regulation an unconstitutional restriction on freedom of speech?

    Held. No. By limiting contributions the government is preserving its interest in the integrity of the system of democracy. This interest is sufficient to justify the effect on the First Amendment right of contributors. On the other hand, the regulation limiting political expenditures places substantial restriction on a person’s right to engage in political speech.

    Discussion. Spending of money is speech because it is used to disseminate political thoughts. On the other hand, a donation is conduct. It is a measure of support and does not result in direct political communication. But it has a high probability of showing impropriety on behalf of the candidates.


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