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Student demonstrators in the rainy weather protesting outside of Coffman Memorial Union on Tuesday.
Photos from April 23 protests
Published April 23, 2024

Starr makes case against campaign finance reform

The First Amendment supports challengers in the current Supreme Court case against campaign finance reform, Kenneth Starr said in a speech at the University.

Campaign finance reform limits the amount a candidate can spend.

Starr gave the University’s 18th annual Silha Lecture on Thursday night at Ted Mann Concert Hall.

He spoke about freedom of speech and how different cases involving this right have been brought to the legal system.

The Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act – passed in March 2002 – banned unregulated donations to national political parties and also limited the airing of election-season issue ads. Starr said this limitation is unconstitutional.

“(Congress) can’t limit expenditure,” Starr said. “Expenditures are at the core of freedom of speech.”

Starr represents Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., in his constitutional challenge of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act. Starr said the act “intrudes deeply into the political life of the nation.”

More than 600 people attended the lecture. Many University students said they were required to attend for a class.

First-year student Dan McAllister said he came to gain political insight.

“I told myself before I came to school here that I wanted to be more informed on political issues,” McAllister said. “So I try to attend as many functions as I can.”

McAllister said that since the beginning of the semester he has joined College Republicans to further shape his political opinions.

Junior Jessica Medearis said she is interested in the McCain-Feingold case.

“(The lecture) sounded interesting,” Medearis said. “I’m really interested in First Amendment rights.”

Medearis said she disagreed with Starr and thinks it is important to cap individual funding levels.

“I don’t think it will restrict their freedom of speech,” Medearis said. “If anything it will enhance free speech, not hinder it.”

Starr is known for his role as special prosecutor in the Whitewater investigation during Bill Clinton’s presidency. He was hired to look into a failed Arkansas real estate deal. Starr’s investigation expanded into the Monica Lewinsky scandal.

The investigation lasted about four years, and in 1998, Justice Department officials questioned Starr’s motives and discussed if an investigation should be opened on Starr’s conduct and tactics.

Starr served as Solicitor General of the United States from 1989-93, and U.S. circuit judge from 1983-89.

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