Taking Disclosure Seriously
Yale Law & Policy Review Inter Alia (2016)
12 Pages Posted: 30 Apr 2016
Date Written: April 28, 2016
Step into any conversation about campaign finance regulation in 2016, and you’re likely to encounter the view that while the Supreme Court is well on its way to dismantling most of the legal framework that has governed money in elections for nearly forty years, disclosure requirements remain on secure constitutional footing. For many advocates of campaign finance regulation, this is a rare source of comfort in a landscape that is otherwise relentlessly bleak. But it is a decidedly second-best alternative to more robust modes of regulation.
I hope in this short piece to strike a cautionary note: to suggest that, for too long, advocates of campaign finance regulation have both taken disclosure for granted and failed to take disclosure sufficiently seriously. This is understandable; until recently, disclosure questions nearly always arose in the context of challenges to other campaign finance regulations, and disclosure has invariably been treated, by both courts and advocates, as something of an afterthought. But in a dramatically shrunken regulatory landscape, there is an increasingly urgent need to develop a stronger and more fully realized set of arguments for the constitutionality of disclosure — not only with an eye to potentially expanding existing disclosure requirements, but also in order to strengthen the constitutional foundations of the existing disclosure regime.
Keywords: Campaign finance, election law, disclosure
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