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Case Basics
Docket No. 
American Constitutional Law Foundation Inc.
(Argued the cause for the petitioner, on behalf of the Petitioner)
(Argued the cause for the respondents)
Facts of the Case 

Colorado practices an initiative-petition process in which citizens can make laws directly through balloting initiatives. Acting on behalf of ballot petitioners, the American Constitutional Law Foundation (Foundation) challenged the constitutionality of six limitations imposed by Colorado on the petitioning process. After mixed rulings in both trial and appellate courts, the Supreme Court granted certiorari to review three of the six original restrictions. The first required petition circulators to be registered voters. The second required them to wear identification badges with their names, status as "volunteer" or "paid," and if the latter then their employer's phone number. The third required initiative proponents to report names, addresses, and registration voting counties for all paid circulators, as well as salary per petition signature, and each circulator's total salary. Proponents also had to report, on a monthly basis, all proponent names, names and addresses of circulators, circulators' monthly salary and debt totals, and the name of each proposed ballot measure.


Did the State of Colorado's imposition of name, badge, and financial disclosure requirements, on initiative-petition proponents and their circulators, violate the First Amendment's freedom of speech protections?

Decision: 6 votes for American Constitutional Law Foundation Inc., 3 vote(s) against
Legal provision: Amendment 1: Speech, Press, and Assembly

Yes. In a 6-to-3 decision, the Court found the name, badge, and disclosure requirements to be unconstitutional. Weighing Colorado's need to protect the integrity of the initiative-petition process against the burdens that its guidelines placed on political expression, the Court found that the latter outweighed the former. Noting that the appellate court upheld a requirement that each circulator submit an affidavit setting out, among several particulars, his or her name and address, the Court explained that the vital information sought by the three additional restrictions at issue was already being secured either directly or indirectly.

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BUCKLEY v. AMERICAN CONSTITUTIONAL LAW FOUNDATION INC.. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 26 August 2015. <http://www.oyez.org/cases/1990-1999/1998/1998_97_930>.
BUCKLEY v. AMERICAN CONSTITUTIONAL LAW FOUNDATION INC., The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1990-1999/1998/1998_97_930 (last visited August 26, 2015).
"BUCKLEY v. AMERICAN CONSTITUTIONAL LAW FOUNDATION INC.," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed August 26, 2015, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1990-1999/1998/1998_97_930.