Free Speech and Campaign Finance Regulations - Virtual

Teacher: Chris Herr and Tristan Black-Ingersoll

Editor: Corey Genest

General Description

The First Amendment to the Constitution prohibits Congress from abridging free speech and the Fourteenth Amendment has been interpreted to extend those prohibitions to state and local governments as well. Over time the Supreme Court has interpreted speech to extend to financial contributions to campaigns, political parties and other political organizations engaged in influencing election results. In addition, the Court has extended some rights of personhood to corporations, including protections of corporate speech against government infringement. Starting after the Watergate scandal, Congress has attempted at several junctions to limit the financial contributions of individuals and corporations to political entities. The Supreme Court, in response, has invalidated an increasing number of those restrictions as unconstitutional restrictions of free speech. Campaign finance regulations and the constitutional protection of free speech raise difficult and essential questions about the role and impact of money in elections and what constitutes an effective democracy.

Essential Question:
  • Does the danger of corruption justify restricting the use of money as a form of political speech under the First Amendment?

Materials and Documents

Thank you so much for your organization. I truly am most appreciative of the financial gift. This is such a rarity for teachers. In fact, finding a no-cost professional development can be a difficulty. You showed respect by providing a no-cost training, a delicious lunch, and a stipend. Thank you so very much. Looking forward to future newsletters and workshops! Thank you for helping teachers grow in their knowledge of a most important subject and cause: civics education.
- Sabrina Maltby, Manchester Public Schools
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