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Authors

Alexander Boer

Document Type

Notes

Abstract

There is perhaps no more vital an issue to a healthy democracy than its attitude towards political speech. Because political speech—and particularly political advertising—has a profound influence on the outcomes of elections, most vibrant democracies recognize the need to avoid arbitrary distinctions among political advertisers that might sway elections for reasons other than the popularity of the candidates. The First Amendment avoids arbitrary distinctions by ensuring a free and open marketplace of ideas in the political speech realm, with almost no restrictions on political advertising. The United Kingdom, by contrast, addresses the problem by way of an outright ban on political advertising. This Note explores the recent, and controversial, Citizens United decision in the context of avoiding such groundless distinctions. In particular, this Note compares the American approach to the British approach, and argues that Citizens United is a correct reaction, within American constitutional law and case law, to the problem of arbitrary distinctions in the political advertising realm.

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