Spotlight: Campaign Finance and the Court

Jay Mallin / Zuma

Senators John McCain and Russ Feingold, the reform act's authors.

The only sure things in life, Benjamin Franklin should have said, are death, taxes and campaign-finance reform. Trying to keep money out of politics is like trying to keep a basement dry in New Orleans, which made the issue a perfect subject for the Supreme Court: nothing revs up Justices like a symbolic fight over an intractable issue. In Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the court struck down certain limits on corporate campaign spending--upholding the First Amendment or selling American politics into bondage, depending on your view.

Some backstory: in 2008 the conservative nonprofit Citizens United produced the anti-Clinton film...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!