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The Informational Interest

24 Pages Posted: 6 Sep 2012  

Daniel R. Ortiz

University of Virginia School of Law

Date Written: September 1, 2012


This essay, to be published in the Journal of Law and Politics, describes how the debate over disclosure in campaign finance has changed and how the Supreme Court has limited the rationales that can justify it. Although in Buckley v. Valeo the Supreme Court identified three separate constitutional interests that disclosure served — an anticorruption interest, an enforcement interest, and an informational interest — in Citizens United v. FEC it effectively threw out the first two. Now the constitutionality of campaign finance disclosure requirements rests almost solely on the informational interest. The essay then shows how Citizens United creates an unstable paradox. The assumptions it makes in the central part of the decision in striking down source and amount regulation of so-called independent expenditures undercut the ones in makes in upholding disclosure under the informational interest. In the former case, it assumes voters are quite savvy and actively engaged in politics; in the latter, it assumes the opposite. The essay concludes with some thoughts about what this conflict may portend.

Keywords: campaign finance reform, Citizens United, informational interest, disclosure

Suggested Citation

Ortiz, Daniel R., The Informational Interest (September 1, 2012). Journal of Law and Politics, Forthcoming; Virginia Public Law and Legal Theory Research Paper No. 2012-50. Available at SSRN:

Daniel R. Ortiz (Contact Author)

University of Virginia School of Law ( email )

580 Massie Road
Charlottesville, VA 22903
United States
804-924-3127 (Phone)
804-924-7536 (Fax)

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