GOV 370L • Money in US Politics
11:00 AM-12:30 PM
Course number may be repeated for credit when topics vary. The year 2002 marked the passage into law of the first significant campaign finance legislation - the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (BCRA) - in the United States since 1974. On September 8th, 2003 the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments regarding the constitutionality of this Act, significant portions of which were deemed unconstitutional by a U.S. District Court in May 2003. A ruling by the Supreme Court is expected as early as December 2003. In this course we explore the nature and consequences of money in American politics and why, at this point in history, we find ourselves embroiled in the most significant debate over campaign finance reform in over thirty years. The debate goes to the heart of the U.S. Constitution, pitting the First Amendment rights of speech and assembly against the perceived fairness and efficacy of a republican government awash, some claim, in increasingly unaccountable money. We examine the work of historians, social scientists, legal scholars, and interested parties on all sides of the debate in an effort not only to assess current policy debates but also to understand how we got here.