For most of us, Florida brings images of flamingos, mojitos, good fishing, and retirement. For those of us defending the First Amendment, Florida is a constitutional wasteland. In a good faith effort to regulate campaign finance, Florida has managed to build a system that, nigh-wholly root and branch, cannot exist in concert with the First Amendment. This post is the first in a series analyzing the constitutional deficiencies of Florida’s regulations.
In 2006, the Supreme Court held that Vermont’s contribution limits were so low that were actively styming effective political competition and de facto suppressing the speech of political challengers. The dollar amount considered too small? $400 for the governor’s race. In Florida, a state with a population of 18.5 million, or about 30 times the size of Vermont, the maximum contribution to a statewide candidate in a primary or general election campaign is a paltry $500.