Brooklyn Law School hosts Buckley v. Valeo discussion for case’s 40th anniversary
Brooklyn Law School (BLS) recently hosted a conversation on the landmark case Buckley v. Valeo in observance of its 40th anniversary with three of the major figures who helped bring forth its First Amendment challenge.
BLS Dean Nicholas W. Allard led the conversation, which was held at the Subotnick Center in Downtown Brooklyn on Tuesday. He was joined by Hon. James L. Buckley, former senator and U.S. Circuit Court judge who served as lead plaintiff; Ira Glasser, former executive director at the American Civil Liberties Union; and Prof. Joel M. Gora, who was one of the attorneys who argued for the case in the Supreme Court.
“Understanding Buckley V. Valeo and its progeny, studying election campaign finance law, is critical to address pressing questions about liberty, freedom, equality and the very legitimacy of our democratic republic,” Allard said.
In the case of Buckley v. Valeo, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down provisions of the 1974 Federal Election Campaign Act that imposed limits on campaign contributions to federal candidates. It is significant because it set the parameters of regulation for political campaigns for more than 30 years.
Allard described today’s political election system as being in “shambles” and claimed that money, distrust and partisan fighting has now threatened the foundation of the government.
“In order for our democracy to endure, we will need more than a superficial cleanup and more than merely attempting to resume business as usual after each stormy election subsides,” Allard said. “We need a selfless collective, public spirited effort, and we need to rebuild and strengthen our institutions on sound and safe ground.”
Allard read from The Federalist Papers, or “the Old Testament,” as he called it, and Hon. Louis Brandeis’ dissent in Olmstead V. United States, or as he put it, “the New Testament.” The readings highlighted the idea that government is set up by and for the people and that no one side has all of the answers.
After Allard’s opening remarks, the speakers discussed various issues related to the topic, including whether or not the impact of the case was what they expected and the explanation of its impact and staying power. Later they discussed their ideas for changes.
“In modern America, we too have been wandering in the wilderness now for 40 years, and it’s about time we find our way to a better place,” Allard said. “I have confidence in the resilience and powerful self-correcting mechanisms built into our brilliantly designed, cantilevered system of government, and confidence in the fundamental good nature and spirit of the American people.”
This discussion of Buckley v. Valeo was a precursor to a Free Speech Symposium that is being organized by Prof. Joel Gora and Hon. Andrew Napolitano, which will be hosted by BLS on Feb. 26.
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