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Writing Reform (2010 Edition)

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Publication Date: December 2010

Publisher(s): Brennan Center for Justice

Author(s): Ciara Torres-Spelliscy

Topic: Government (Legislative power and procedure)
Government (Public policy)
Law and ethics (Constitutional law)
Politics (Campaigns, lobbying, and pressure groups)
Politics (Elections and voting)
Politics (Politics)

Keywords: Campaign Finance; Citizens United; Disclosure; Public Financing

Coverage: United States


Purpose. The Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law has designed this manual for people who want to draft campaign finance reform legislation that is both appropriate for their community and sensitive to constitutional concerns. Because different laws may be appropriate in different states and localities, the handbook will not tell you what provisions to include in legislation you draft. In our view, people with ties to communities interested in reform are in the best position to determine what legislation is needed and achievable. We therefore do not provide model laws here, but we do identify organizations that can provide such models.

Rather than providing a blueprint for reform, we offer practical suggestions and legal analysis that will assist reformers in selecting and drafting appropriate campaign finance provisions. The handbook certainly should help drafters who wish to maximize the potential for avoiding a lawsuit or succeeding in court if their legislation is challenged, so that campaign finance reform can be implemented expeditiously. The manual also should be of use to activists who aim to push the envelope of permissible reform by drafting statutes or initiatives that can serve as the basis for test cases. Both groups of drafters must understand the state of current law to accomplish their purpose.

We focus primarily on the drafting of statutes or initiatives that will govern state elections. Our recommendations and analysis also apply, however, to local campaign finance laws. Special issues that must be faced when attempting to regulate municipal campaign finance are addressed briefly in the Epilogue.


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