The metaphor of the political arena as a marketplace has become all too apt with candidates' increased reliance on 30- and 60-second spot television advertisements produced by consulting firms. This shift in the nature of political discourse as well as the accompanying scramble to raise the money necessary to fund this uniquely expensive form of campaign speech has generated much discontent with the electoral process among politicians and commentators. For instance, the Senate established a sixmember commission to propose reforms regarding media coverage of political campaigns, and the Markle Foundation has funded a study on "the potential role of public television in enhancing the quality of discourse about candidates and issues in the 1992 Presidential election." The concern is that political advertisements are becoming more and more like commercial ads - not only in their lack of substance but in their extraordinary cost as well. Although there is growing sentiment in favor of campaign reform, opponents reliably raise the first amendment as a bar to reformist regulation. Resistance typically is cast in a libertarian reading of the first amendment as absolutely prohibiting governmental infringement of individual autonomy. Yet if we allow two shifts in our thinking, we would recognize that the goals of the first amendment may actually compel rather than prohibit a recalibration of some of the rules of political campaigning.
"Political Campaign Advertising and the First Amendment: A Structural-Functional Analysis of Proposed Reform,"
Akron Law Review: Vol. 23
, Article 4.
Available at: http://ideaexchange.uakron.edu/akronlawreview/vol23/iss2/4