s are elected by voters not...economic
interests."-Reynolds v. Sims (1964)
Groundbreaking United States Supreme Court case dealing with campaign finance reform that was decided in 1976. After the Watergate scandal, where President Nixon's Committee to Re-Elect the President used dirty tricks (most notably breaking into the offices of the Democratic National Committee) the American Congress passed several amendments to the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971. These amendments included limits on the amount of money an individual could donate to any particular candidate or party and the amount of money an individual could spend on his own campaign. The Federal Election Commission was appointed to oversee that these rules were enforced.
These rules were said to be by some in violation of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution, in that some said they prohibited freedom of speech and assembly. Others said that the rules simply provided an equal plane on which all candidates could run. The Supreme Court, in a near unanimous decision (Chief Justice Warren E. Burger wrote only a partial dissent, agreeing in part with the majority opinion.) made two main conclusions:
1) In general, restrictions on political contributions were not in contrast to the First Amendment, since they enhanced the "integrity of our system of representative democracy" by protecting other candidates from undue influence or corruption.
2) However, when the government imposed restrictions on the use of people's own resources or those of their families, they did violate the First Amendment. These restrictions were not narrowly tailored to the achievement of the elimination of corruption.
The opinion was unpopular among many, including candidates and public officials. Many, including justices on the current court are asking that the case be retried. Among those who have called for Buckley to be overturned, according to the National Voting Rights Institute are attorneys general of 26 states; secretaries of state or chief election officials of 21 states and over 200 constitutional "scholars" from across the nation. (Quotation marks added because I don't know the credentials of said scholars.)