The Original Scope of the Congressional Power to Regulate Elections

46 Pages Posted: 31 Jan 2011 Last revised: 4 Jan 2012

See all articles by Robert G. Natelson

Robert G. Natelson

Independence & Montana Policy Institutes

Date Written: 2010


Courts testing the constitutionality of federal campaign finance laws usually focus on First Amendment issues. More fundamental, however, is the question of whether campaign finance laws are within Congress's enumerated power to regulate the "Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections." This Article is an objective examination into the intended scope of this congressional power, using numerous sources overlooked by other legal writers. The Article concludes that the intended scope of the power was wide enough to authorize most modern congressional election statutes, but not wide enough to support modern federal campaign finance laws.

Keywords: constitution, constitutional law, election law, elections, campaign finance, campaign regulation, original intent, original understanding, original meaning, founders

JEL Classification: k1, K10, K29, K30

Suggested Citation

Natelson, Robert G., The Original Scope of the Congressional Power to Regulate Elections (2010). University of Pennsylvania Journal of Constitutional Law, Vol. 13, No. 1, 2010. Available at SSRN:

Robert G. Natelson (Contact Author)

Independence & Montana Policy Institutes ( email )

727 E. 16th Ave.
Denver, CO 80203
United States
303-279-6536 (Phone)


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