1.    Per curiam opinion
a.    Yes, in part.  In sum, the Court’s per curiam decision
sustained the
contribution limits, but found unconstitutional the limits on
independent expenditures by individuals, on expenditures by a
candidate from personal or family funds, and on aggregate campaign
b.   The Buckley Court also rejected attempts by the defenders of the
Act’s spending limits to portray these as merely “reasonable time,
place and manner regulations.”  These spending limitations imposed
“direct quantity restrictions on political communication and
association,” and thus went beyond mere regulation of time, place and
c.  The Court’s opinion took pains to distinguish the Act from the
draft-card-burning prohibition upheld in U.S. v. O’Brien. Recall that
the third part of the four-part O’Brien test distinguished between
speech-related conduct which is regulated because of harms
independent of the message conveyed (a class into which the O’Brien
Court found that the ban on draft-card burning fell) and regulations
which suppress communications because their content is deemed
harmful. The Court in Buckley held that the federal government’s
interest in regulating contributions and expenditures “arises in some
measure because the communication allegedly integral to the conduct
is itself thought to be harmful,” making this situation different
from that in O’Brien. Because the governmental interest was directed
at allegedly harmful content, it was content-based and required
“exacting scrutiny.”
d.  The Court then applied its “closest scrutiny” to the contribution
Although these limits placed some quantity restriction on political
expression, the restriction was only “marginal.” Since a dollar
contribution does not communicate the “underlying basis” for the
contributor’s support of the candidate, the amount of “communication”
being done by the contributor does not increase as the size of the
contribution increases – whatever expression takes place when a
contribution is made derives from the “undifferentiated, symbolic act
of contributing,” whose symbolism is largely independent of dollar
amount. (The Court conceded that contributions may result in
political expression if they are spent by a candidate or campaign
committee to present views to the voters, but this fact was
irrelevant for First Am. purposes, since “[t]he transformation of
contributions into political debate involves speech by someone other
than the contributors”).  On the other side of the scale, the
governmental interest supporting the limits was a powerful one, that
of limiting the actuality and appearance of corruption resulting from
large individual contributions, which are sometimes made to secure a
political quid pro quo from the candidate. No less restrictive
alternative would have been adequate; for instance, anti-bribery and
disclosure laws could not deal fully with the need to root out all
apparent as well as actual opportunity for corruption. Nor was the
means-end fit too loose because most large contributors do not seek
improper influence, and because a higher limit than $1,000 would
still have been low enough to prevent any contributor from exercising
improper influence – again, the interest in avoiding even the
appearance of impropriety justified a somewhat loose fit.
e.  By contrast, the Court found that the limitations on expenditures
by individuals acting independently from candidates imposed “direct
and substantial restraints on the quantity of political speech,” and
limited political expression “at the core … of First Amendment
freedoms.” For instance, the restrictions would have made it
impossible for an individual or association legally to take out a
single quarter-page advertisement backing a particular candidate in a
big-city news paper.  When viewed with the requisite “exacting
scrutiny,” the governmental interest in combating corruption,
asserted in support of the limits on expenditures by individuals, was
inadequate. First, not all apparent or actual quid pro quo deals
would be eliminated, since the limits applied only to expenditures
“advocating the election or defeat” of a “clearly identified
candidate,” so that ads could be run supporting the candidate’s views
(as part of a quid pro quo), without expressly advocating his
election. Secondly, the expenditure limits only applied where the
expenditures were made totally independently of the candidate and his
campaign; spending which was controlled by or coordinated with the
campaign was treated as a contribution. Where such complete
independence existed, a carefully-orchestrated quid pro qua was less
likely, the Court concluded.  The Court rejected another proffered
justification for the limits on individuals’ expenditures: the
interest in “equalizing the relative ability of individuals and
groups to influence the outcome of elections.” The First Am., in the
Court’s view, simply does not permit government to “restrict the
speech of some elements of our society in order to enhance the
relative voices of others.”
f.  The Court also struck down limits on the amount that a candidate
may spend from his own personal or family funds. The interest in
preventing actual or apparent corruption did not apply to this
situation, since obviously a candidate would not bribe himself. And
the interest in equalizing the resources of competing candidates was
not well served by the spending limit, since a candidate who spent
less of his own money than his opponent could nonetheless out spend
the latter by raising more money from outside sources. Therefore, no
state interest was sufficient to outweigh the candidate’s own “First
Amendment right to engage in the discussion of public issues and
vigorously and tirelessly advocate his own election…. ”
g.  Finally, the Court struck down limits on what a candidate could
spend from all sources combined. Candidates have a First Amendment
right to spend as much as they wish to promote their own political
views, and the governmental interest in curbing the skyrocketing
costs of political campaigns is not sufficient to outweigh that
right, the Court held.