Buckley v. Valeo is a Supreme Court case that was decided on January 30, 1976. It is a case to which all campaign finance law must answer. The Court undertook a comprehensive review of the Federal Election Campaign Act and struck down or modified numerous parts of the law to conform to the First Amendment. Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission has drawn the most ire of the campaign finance “reform” lobby in recent years, but in the last year or so it has practically become a weekly hot-take to acknowledge that overturning Citizens United is but a small piece of the reformist agenda. That is, to get free speech out of the money-in-politics debate, one must also reverse Buckley.
Over the past few months, a number of panels and other events have commemorated the Buckley decision’s 40th anniversary. I only recently had the chance to review the video of the following event, which took place at Brooklyn Law School on January 26. It is an impressive assembly: Joel Gora, Brooklyn Law professor who argued part of the case, James Buckley, a former United States Senator who served as one of the plaintiffs, and Ira Glasser, former executive director of the ACLU (and the NYCLU when the first federal campaign finance brewed in the early 1970s).
The panel is fascinating for its look at the history of the Buckley case, particularly the story of James Buckley’s unlikely Senate victory in 1970.
(In addition to this video, there is a separate video with the question and answer portion following the initial discussion.)