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Money, Politics, and the Constitution: Beyond Citizens United

Topics: Economics and Inequality, Media and Politics, Election Reform   Subtopics: Campaign Finance Reform

Apr 28, 2011

Authors: Edited by Monica Youn

Publisher(s): The Century Foundation

Money, Politics, and the Constitution: Beyond Citizens United

Type: Book

Pages: 266

ISBN: 978-0-87078-521-4

Published by The Century Foundation Press & Brennan Center for Justice

For more information on Money, Politics and the Constitution, please visit www.brennancenter.org, or call Jeanine Plant-Chirlin at 646-292-8322.

Update: The Supreme Court June 27th decision in McComish v. Bennett against a provision of the Arizona public campaign financing system is the latest in a string of cases in which the Court has struck down laws designed to curb the influence of money in politics. Read the Brennan Center's statement.

Top Constitutional scholars launch a new jurisprudence to curb the rise of unfettered money in politics post-Citizens United. What is next for the First Amendment? And how can we advance a vision of the Constitution as a charter for a vibrant, participatory democracy?

In the U.S. Supreme Court case, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, five justices ruled that corporations and unions had a constitutional right to spend unlimited sums in elections, and in so doing overturned decades of precedent and dozens of laws. The ruling earned banner headlines, a sharp State of the Union rebuke, and public disapproval hovering near 80 percent in the polls. In the 2010 election that followed, independent spend­ing spiked, much of it done secretly. The decision ranks among the Court’s most controversial and consequential.

This volume of essays, which is cosponsored with the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, is an attempt to map out the complex labyrinth that led to Citizens United, and to explore where this decision may lead. The chapters in it arose from a symposium sponsored by the Brennan Centers just nine weeks after the Citizens United decision was announced.

View the Table of Contents, Foreword by Century Foundation President Richard Leone, and the Preface by Brennan Center's Michael Waldman.

Download the  Introduction by Monica Youn.

About the book: Erwin Chemerinsky, Dean of UC Irvine School of Law and author of The Conservative Assault on the Constitution:

“A brilliant collection of essays on one of the most important contemporary constitutional issues: when can and should the government be able to regulate campaign spending? … If there is to be a new jurisprudence in this area, this book is likely its foundation.”

About the conference that sparked the book: Stanley Fish, The New York Times:

“A-list First Amendment scholars … As a result of what had been said and proposed, something in the world might actually change.”



  • Anthony Corrado addresses some of the difficult questions being asked in the campaign finance debate about the role of money in elections and politics and possibilities for reforming the current system, with the goal that citizens may gain a better understanding of the current controversies.

  • To reduce the corrosive effect of private money on the political process, the federal government should subsidize campaigns for the United States House of Representatives and Senate. A Century Foundation Idea Brief.

  • Recently, the Supreme Court’s 1976 decision in Buckley v. Valeo has come under fire for allowing money and its owners too free a hand in American elections and politics. This volume of essays sketches a vision of how campaign finance could be more closely regulated under the First Amendment, were the Buckley decision undone.

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