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‘So to Speak’ podcast: Campaign finance and free speech with attorney Sam Gedge

By April 6, 2017

From Buckley v. Valeo (1976) to Citizens United v. FEC (2010), legal disputes over the constitutionality of campaign finance laws have captured the public’s attention for decades.

At the heart of the debate is a question of whether money donated to political candidates or spent influencing elections is speech protected by the First Amendment. And, if it is, are there countervailing interests outweighing those core First Amendment concerns?

Even within the free speech community, the debate can be contentious. But for our guest on today’s episode of So to Speak: The Free Speech Podcast, the issue is straightforward: Money spent in support of a political message is speech.

Sam Gedge is an attorney with the Institute for Justice, a national public-interest law firm that puts its money where its mouth is, regularly challenging campaign finance restrictions in court.

The organization most famously co-litigated the seminal SpeechNOW.org v. FEC (2010) case, where the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia held that limits on contributions to political action committees making independent expenditures are unconstitutional. It was the case that paved the way for the creation of so-called “super PACs.”

In this podcast, Gedge presents the basics of campaign finance regulation and makes his case for why money spent on politics deserves full First Amendment protection.

If you enjoy this podcast, be sure to check out the “History of Campaign Finance” timeline that’s part of FIRE’s First Amendment Library. This one-of-a-kind feature lays out all of the important moments in America’s campaign finance history — from 1758 to the present day — in an easy-to-digest format.

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