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Supreme Court of the United States

Campaign finance

Florida State University College of Law

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Contingent Constitutionality, Legislative Facts, And Campaign Finance Law, Michael T. Morley Jan 2016

Contingent Constitutionality, Legislative Facts, And Campaign Finance Law, Michael T. Morley

Florida State University Law Review

Many of the Supreme Court’s important holdings concerning campaign finance law are not pure matters of constitutional interpretation. Rather, they are “contingent” constitutional determinations: the Court’s conclusions rest in substantial part on legislative facts about the world that the Court finds, intuits, or assumes to be true. While earlier commentators have recognized the need to improve legislative factfinding by the Supreme Court, other aspects of its treatment of legislative facts—particularly in the realm of campaign finance—require reform as well.

Stare decisis purportedly insulates the Court’s purely legal holdings and interpretations from future challenge. Factually contingent constitutional rulings should, in contrast, …