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PACs Post-Citizens United: Improving Accountability and Equality in Campaign Finance

36 Pages Posted: 24 May 2011 Last revised: 10 Oct 2011

Jeremy Peterman

New York University School of Law

Date Written: May 18, 2011


The modern campaign finance system is praised by few and maligned by many. Following Citizens United, the decision's critics blamed the Court for further enabling unaccountable groups to run undesirable negative advertising campaigns and for reinforcing the perception that the political process is governed by corporate special interests. Taking the doctrinal changes in Citizens United as given, I argue that the Federal Election Campaign Act’s $5000 limitation on individual contributions to political committees should be removed. First, in light of recent campaign finance decisions, the limitation appears to be unconstitutional as it imposes a limit on First Amendment rights without being tailored to the government interest in preventing quid pro quo corruption. Second, eliminating the contribution limitations will have previously unrecognized benefits. Specifically, removing the restriction will enable smaller, ideological, PACs to better compete with more established corporate PACs and it may lead to an increase in accountable political speech by putting more money into candidates' hands.

Keywords: Campaign Finance, Citizens United, CalMed, California Medical Association, Political Committee, PAC

Suggested Citation

Peterman, Jeremy, PACs Post-Citizens United: Improving Accountability and Equality in Campaign Finance (May 18, 2011). New York University Law Review, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN:

Jeremy Peterman (Contact Author)

New York University School of Law ( email )

40 Washington Square South
New York, NY 10012-1099
United States

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