Journal of Law and Policy


Joel M. Gora


This short paper introduces the papers and commentary produced at two significant First Amendment occasions. First was a 40th anniversary celebration of the Supreme Court’s landmark 1976 decision in Buckley v. Valeo, the fountainhead ruling on the intersection between campaign finance restrictions and First Amendment rights. The questions were discussed provocatively by two of the leading players in that decision, James Buckley himself, now a retired United States Circuit Judge, and Ira Glasser, former head of the ACLU who helped organize a strange bedfellows, left-right coalition to challenge the new federal election campaign laws on First Amendment grounds. The paper traces events leading up to the decision, the impact of the decision and its resonance to modern times in inspiring rulings such as the Citizens United decision.

This paper also introduces the larger Free Speech Symposium which explored not only campaign finance issues as a central First Amendment matter, but more broadly considered the role of Free Speech in our constitutional system, the surprisingly speech protective rulings of the Roberts Court on those issues and some powerful critiques of those decisions. Featuring leading First Amendment activists and scholars with views across the spectrum, the Symposium thoroughly canvassed the past, present and future of free speech.