The lower court in what became Buckley v. Valeo recognized that "it would be strange indeed if . . . the wealthy few could claim a constitutional guarantee to a stronger political voice than the unwealthy many because they are able to give and spend more money and because the amounts they give and spend cannot be limited.” Yet that strange idea, an idea wholly inconsistent with political equality in a democratic society is currently the law.
In reversing the lower court, the United States Supreme Court held that the right of wealthy individuals to spend unlimited sums of money in campaign expenditures outweighed the interest of political equality in a democracy. Any other result, the Court claimed, would be "foreign to the First Amendment." Regrettably, that principle not only has be given stubborn adherence; it has been extended to corporations; indeed, even secret spending is constitutionally permissible.
One of the many exciting possibilities associated with a possible Clinton victory is that a Democratic Court could cast aside this system of undue influence. Perhaps anticipating that possibility, Ron Fein, the Legal Director For Free Speech for People (I am proud to be on its Legal Advisory Committee) reports on an amicus brief filed by Free Speech for People and others which seeks to challenge the Court’s rejection of political equality and makes a powerful case for reconsideration. Fein says that, “The time has come to advance political equality in the courts.” For his summary of the argument, see here.