Against the Scribes: Campaign Finance Reform Revisited

17 Pages Posted: 22 Nov 2000


This essay argues that limitations on campaign expenditures by individuals or associations are unconstitutional and would damage economic growth. First, campaign expenditure limitations lack neutrality and would empower the media and other groups whose business is influencing politics at the expense of citizens who engage in other enterprises. There is no justification under the First Amendment for the government to prevent citizens from renting the media to make political statements, while owners of media enjoy the right to influence elections as they please. Campaign finance limitations would also limit economic growth because they would create a monopoly politics dominated by the scribal class ? the media, academics and Hollywood - with barriers to entry against the materially productive.

Second, the essay argues that campaign expenditures limitations offend both the original understanding of the First Amendment and modern First Amendment doctrine. Third, the essay also responds to some criticism of my position from Frank Michelman of Harvard Law School and Samuel Issacharoff of Columbia Law School. Finally, the essay addresses the validity of the current limits on how much money individuals and associations may contribute to others' campaigns.

Suggested Citation

McGinnis, John, Against the Scribes: Campaign Finance Reform Revisited. Available at SSRN: or

John McGinnis (Contact Author)

Northwestern University - Pritzker School of Law ( email )

375 E. Chicago Ave
Chicago, IL 60611
United States
312-503-3235 (Phone)

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