As I blogged earlier this week, the supreme court race is likely to provide the occasion for another round of campaign finance "reform." Via Owen Robinson, I see that there is a proposal to ban independent expenditures during a campaign unless the donors are disclosed.
I am more sympathetic to disclosure than restrictions, but the Institute for Justice has released a study suggesting that disclosure requirements burden the exercise of first amendment rights of free speech and association while bringing little benefit.
According to IJ, disclosure requirements have a substantial chilling effect on the willingness of people to make contributions to organizations supporting ballot initiatives and has little impact on voters' assessment of those initiatives. Voters don't know they can find out who contributed, don't know who contributed and don't seem very motivated to find out.
It occurs to me that many of the strongest supporters of disclosure are among the strongest opponents of voter identification requirements because they fear its "chilling effect" on exercise of the franchise.
But if IJ is right, disclosure will also "chill" the exercise of rights of free speech and association. It will discourage people from pooling their resources to promote the public advocacy of issues they care about.