Tag Government

Whither Reform? Domestic Surveillance in the Electronic Age

Photo by Sean MacEntee / Available on Flickr

Photo by Sean MacEntee / Available on Flickr

By Aimee Thomson

The recent and ongoing disclosures by Edward Snowden have revealed massive U.S. government-operated surveillance programs that vacuum up almost every aspect of modern communication in the name of national security. Since the first documents came to light last June,[1] a broad coalition of civil rights and privacy advocates has demanded reform of the substantive laws and procedural safeguards underlying these programs. Six months later, however, domestic surveillance remains little changed.

A full exploration of the legal authority for, and scope and use of, the signals intelligence collected by the National Security Agency (NSA) exceeds the scope of this article.[2] But, in brief, the revealed surveillance programs fall into two principal legal categories.

Citizens United and Equality Forgotten

Mark C. Alexander


In this article, Alexander examines the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United, which treats campaign spending by corporations as political speech deserving of strong protection under the First Amendment. Alexander argues that this approach creates a form of vote dilution wherein wealthy individuals and powerful corporations exert a disproportionate amount of control over politics, implicating constitutional concerns under the Guarantee Clause. Furthermore, candidates and elected officials spend an increasing amount of time and energy on campaign fundraising, detracting from their responsibilities as representatives of the people. Alexander argues that freeing up the time of elected officials should be considered a compelling interest and therefore be given weight in the constitutional calculus.

This article explores the reasoning in the Citizens United decision and the history of campaign finance jurisprudence and argues that the Court can remain faithful to the First Amendment without overlooking the danger of debate distortion and vote dilution.

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