Campaign Finance Reform: A Legal Analysis of Issue and Express Advocacy

Description:

Issue advocacy communications have become increasingly popular over the federal election cycles. Often these advertisements could be interpreted to favor or disfavor certain candidates, while also serving to inform the public about a policy issue. However, unlike communications that expressly advocate the election or defeat of a clearly identified candidate, the Supreme Court has ruled that issue ads are constitutionally protected First Amendment speech and cannot be regulated in any manner. According to most lower court rulings, only speech containing express words of advocacy of election or defeat, also known as “express advocacy” or “magic words” can be regulated as election-related communications and therefore be subject to the requirements of the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA). Unlike express advocacy communications, therefore, issue ads may be paid for with funds unregulated by federal law, i.e., soft money

Creator(s):
Creation Date: July 10, 2001
Partner(s):
UNT Libraries Government Documents Department
Collection(s):
Congressional Research Service Reports
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Place of Publication: Washington D.C., USA
Date(s):
  • Creation: July 10, 2001
Description:

Issue advocacy communications have become increasingly popular over the federal election cycles. Often these advertisements could be interpreted to favor or disfavor certain candidates, while also serving to inform the public about a policy issue. However, unlike communications that expressly advocate the election or defeat of a clearly identified candidate, the Supreme Court has ruled that issue ads are constitutionally protected First Amendment speech and cannot be regulated in any manner. According to most lower court rulings, only speech containing express words of advocacy of election or defeat, also known as “express advocacy” or “magic words” can be regulated as election-related communications and therefore be subject to the requirements of the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA). Unlike express advocacy communications, therefore, issue ads may be paid for with funds unregulated by federal law, i.e., soft money

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6 pages.

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Partner:
UNT Libraries Government Documents Department
Collection:
Congressional Research Service Reports
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Resource Type: Report
Format: Text