Vouchers and Buckley: The Need for 'Regime Change'
Posted: 16 Jan 2003 Last revised: 25 Jul 2013
This article is part of a symposium issue in the University of Richmond Law Review on the book, "Voting with Dollars: A New Paradigm for Campaign Finance" by Bruce Ackerman and Ian Ayres. In the book, Ackerman and Ayres argue that their proposal for campaign finance vouchers and mandatory donor anonymity is consistent with the important Supreme Court campaign finance case of Buckley v. Valeo, 424 U.S. 1 (1976). Unfortunately, the authors underestimate how the Buckley framework would limit the benefits of their proposal. Buckley's rules on issue advocacy and individual expenditure limits would render the voucher program and the mandatory donor anonymity plan far less effective than the authors suggest. Although the voucher plan would still be an improvement on the current system, many of the modern problems of campaign finance would remain. Comprehensive reform must await a fundamental change in our campaign finance regime.
Part I sets forth the basics of campaign finance law as established in Buckley, Ackerman and Ayres' views on the correctness of Buckley, and an analysis of whether the authors' proposal is consistent with Buckley. Part II explains how Buckley interferes with the efficient working of the Ackerman/Ayres proposal. It illustrates the problems Buckley creates by drawing upon the book's hypothetical discussion of how the 2000 presidential election would have been conducted had the authors' proposal been put in place. It concludes with some thoughts on why massive reform must await the end of the Buckley regime.
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