Analysis of Supreme Court Decision in Randall v. Sorrell

Analysis of Supreme Court Decision in Randall v. Sorrell

July 5, 2006
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On June 26, 2006, the U.S. Supreme Court announced its decision in Randall v. Sorrell, a case addressing the constitutionality of Vermont’s comprehensive campaign finance law, enacted in 1997. The Court was badly splintered on the reasoning, but the bottom-line vote was to strike Vermont’s spending limits as well as its contribution limits. This is not the result that reformers hoped for; neither does the decision realize the worst fears that some had about the outcome. The splintered rationales of the six opinions reflect the continued lack of consensus on the Court on how to address the conflicting constitutional values at stake in the campaign finance debate. This memo outlines how the Justices lined up on the issues, provides some analysis of the opinions, and touches on the implications for future reform efforts.


Related case materials can be found in the righthand column under "Supplemental Materials."