How Disclosure Laws Advance the Constitution’s Promise of Self-Government

American flag and money

The U.S. Supreme Court continues to uphold campaign finance disclosure as a means to inform voters about candidates, policies, and sources of political speech. Despite the Court’s sustained approval of political transparency, opponents of campaign finance regulation have continued to attack the constitutionality of disclosure requirements. Most of these challenges contend that disclosure infringes on First Amendment rights of political speech and association privacy—but fail to recognize that disclosure actually promotes interests rooted in the U.S. Constitution and the First Amendment. 

A new report from Campaign Legal Center (CLC), "Transparency And The First Amendment: How Disclosure Laws Advance the Constitution’s Promise of Self-Government," takes a more holistic view of the relationship between disclosure laws and the First Amendment. Rather than focusing on the negative implications of disclosure, CLC’s report explains how political transparency promotes First Amendment values by ensuring voters have the information necessary to make meaningful choices on Election Day. Likewise, the report outlines policy solutions to shine a light on the real sources of dark money in campaigns and to prevent foreign meddling in American elections. The brief champions disclosure as a valuable tool to strengthen democracy and advance the First Amendment’s goal of a citizen-led government. 

Read the full brief