People often argue that transparency in a democracy is imperative. Transparency, though, may only be achieved through disclosure. In recent years, the United States Supreme Court has strongly favored compelled disclosure in the context of political expression. Yet, there exists an exception to this mandate for minor, dissident political parties. This exception, established in Buckley v. Valeo, 424 U.S. 1, 74 (1976) (per curiam), purports to shield those parties from threats, harassment, and reprisals due to their minority status. Historically this exception has been narrowly utilized to protect Cold War era socialist political parties.
This Note argues that the Buckley minor-party exception should be extended to not only encompass minor, partisan political parties, but also issue-based minority groups and their members. This Note will further argue that issue-oriented expression through association deserves the same First Amendment protection as direct advocacy; that association by membership deserves greater protection than association through monetary support; and that association by membership is as strong as, and therefore deserves the same degree of protection, as direct expression.
Absent such extension of the Buckley minor-party exception, recent legislation enacted by Connecticut and Massachusetts, is susceptible to a constitutional challenge by issue-oriented minority groups and their members who are subject to mandatory disclosure of personal information.
Joseph T. Poulsen, COMPELLED SPEECH—CONNECTICUT AND MASSACHUSETTS: INADVERTENTLY INVITING SUPPRESSION OF DISSENT POLITICAL EXPRESSION, 38 W. New Eng. L. Rev. 89 (2016), https://digitalcommons.law.wne.edu/lawreview/vol38/iss1/3