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Bradley Smith

Bradley Smith



  • Law School

Contact Information


Bradley A. Smith holds the Josiah H. Blackmore II/Shirley M. Nault Professor of Law position at Capital University Law School. He is one of the nation’s leading authorities on election law and campaign finance, and co-author of “Voting Rights and Election Law,” a leading casebook in the field. In 2010 he received the Bradley Prize from the Bradley Foundation of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, awarded annually “to recognize individuals of extraordinary talent and dedication who have made contributions of excellence defending the institutions of free, representative government and private enterprise.”In 2000, he was nominated by President Clinton to fill a Republican-designated seat on the Federal Election Commission, where he served for five years, including as Chairman of the Commission in 2004. He has appeared as a guest on all major TV networks, including programs such as The O’Reilly Factor, Hardball with Chris Matthews, Hannity & Colmes, and many others. His 2001 book, “Unfree Speech: The Folly of Campaign Finance Reform” was praised by columnist George Will as “the year’s most important book on governance.” He has published widely with popular publications such as the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post, the Atlantic, and National Review, and his scholarly work has appeared in the Yale Law Journal, the University of Pennsylvania Law Review, the Georgetown Law Journal, the Harvard Journal of Legislation, the Harvard Business Law Review, the George Washington Law Review, the Stanford Law and Policy Review, and many other academic journals. Professor Smith has been on the Capital University Law School faculty since 1993. From 2013-15 he held the Visiting Judge John T. Copenhaver Chair of Law at West Virginia University, and in 2018-19 was a James Madison Fellow in the Department of Politics at Princeton. He has also taught at the Antonin Scalia Law School at George Mason University in Virginia. Professor Smith earned his B.A. from Kalamazoo College and his J.D. from Harvard Law School, and holds an honorary doctorate from Augustana College.
  • J.D., cum laude, Harvard Law School
  • B.A., cum laude, Kalamazoo College
  • Campaigns
  • Campaign Finance
  • Corporate Engagement in Politics
  • Elections
  • Redistricting
  • First Amendment (Speech and Assembly)
  • Administrative Law
  • Electoral Law


UNFREE SPEECH: THE FOLLY OF CAMPAIGN FINANCE REFORM (Princeton University Press, 2001) (paperback ed., 2003).

Book Chapters

McConnell v. FEC: Campaign Speech at the Crossroads , in “Recent Constitutional Cases,” (Edward J. Erler, ed.) (Rowman & Littlefield, 2008).


Electoral Process and the First Amendment, in SUPPLEMENT II: ENCYCLOPEDIA OF THE AMERICAN CONSTITUTION (Leonard W. Levy et al. eds., 1999).

Campaign Finance Follies, in TAKING SIDES: CLASHING VIEWS ON CONTROVERSIAL POLITICAL ISSUES (George McKenna and Stanley Feingold eds., 11th ed. 1999).

Restrictions on Political Speech, in CATO HANDBOOK FOR CONGRESS (1999).

Campaign-Finance Follies, Commentary, at 37 (1997) reprinted in DEBATING DEMOCRACY: A READER IN AMERICAN POLITICS (B. Miroff et al. eds., 1998) and in TAKING SIDES: CLASHING VIEWS ON CONTROVERSIAL POLITICAL ISSUES (Fall 1998).

Law Review Articles

Separation of Campaign and State, Geo. Wash. L. Rev. (forthcoming 2013).

Practical and Theoretical Difficulties of Campaign Finance Disclosure in a Post-Citizens United World, St. Thomas J. L. & Pol’y (2012).

The Caperton Caper and the Kennedy Conundrum, 8 Cato S. Ct. Rev. 319 (2009) (with Stephen Hoersting).

Vanity of Vanities: National Popular Vote and the Electoral College, 7 Election Law Journal 196 (2008)

The John Roberts Salvage Company: After McConnell, A New Court Looks to Repair the Constitution, 68 Ohio St. L. J. 891 (2007)

Boundary Based Restrictions in Boundless Broadcast Media Markets: McConnell v. FEC’s Underinclusive Overbreadth Analysis, 18 Stanford Law & Policy Review 240 (2007), with Jason R. Owen.

A Moderate, Modern Campaign Finance Reform Agenda, 12 Nexus J. Op. 3 (2007).

Don’t Shoot the Messenger: the FEC, Political Committees, and the Limits of Administrative Law, 4 J. Elec. L. 82 (2005) (with Allison Hayward).

McConnell v. Federal Election Commission: Ideology Trumps Reality, Pragmatism, 3 J. Elec. L. 345 (2004).

Campaign Finance Reform: Looking for Corruption in all the Wrong Places, 2 Cato S. Ct. Rev. 187(2003).

A Toothless Anaconda: Innovation, Impotence, and Over-enforcement at the Federal Election Commission, 1 J. Elec. L. 145 (2002).

Introduction to Symposium on Judicial Elections: Selecting Judges in the Twenty-First Century, 30 Cap. U. L. Rev. 437 (2002).

Hamilton at Wits End: The Lost Discipline of the Spending Clause vs. the False Discipline of Campaign Finance Reform, 4 CHAPMAN LAW REVIEW 117 (2001).

Regulation and the Decline of Grassroots Politics, 50 CATHOLIC UNIVERSITY LAW REVIEW 1 (2000).

Some Problems with Taxpayer-Funded Political Campaigns, 148 UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA LAW REVIEW 591 (1999).

A Most Uncommon Cause: Thoughts on Campaign Finance Reform and a Response to Professor Paul, 30 CONNECTICUT LAW REVIEW 831 (1998).

Soft Money, Hard Realities: The Constitutional Prohibition on a Soft Money Ban, 24 JOURNAL OF LEGISLATION 179 (1998).

Money Talks: Speech, Corruption, Equality, and Campaign Finance, 86 GEORGETOWN LAW JOURNAL 45 (1997).

The Sirens' Song: Campaign Finance Regulation and the First Amendment, 6 JOURNAL OF LAW & POLICY 1 (1997).

Faulty Assumptions and Undemocratic Consequences of Campaign Finance Reform, 105 YALE LAW JOURNAL 1049 (1996), reprinted in THE CONSTITUTION AND CAMPAIGN FINANCE REFORM, (Frederick G. Slabach ed., 1998), and in CAMPAIGN FINANCE REFORM: A SOURCEBOOK (Anthony Corrado et al., eds. 1997), and in POLITICAL MONEY: DEREGULATING AMERICAN POLITICS: SELECTED WRITINGS ON CAMPAIGN FINANCE REFORM (Annelise Anderson ed., 2000).

Real and Imagined Reform of Campaign Corruption, 6 CORNELL JOURNAL OF LAW & PUBLIC POLICY 141 (1996).

Academic Book Reviews

The Legislative Process: Lost in the Labyrinth, H-Pol; H-Net Reviews (Aug. 2001) (reviewing Diana Dwyre and Victoria Farrar-Myers, Legislative Labyrinth: Congress and campaign Finance Reform (2001)).

Real and Imagined Reform of Campaign Corruption, 6 Cornell J. L. & Pub. Pol’y 141 (1996) (reviewing Larry J. Sabato and Glenn R. Simpson, Dirty Little Secrets: The Persistence of Corruption in American Politics (1996)).

Encyclopedia Entries

"Financing Political Speech", in The Oxford Companion to the Supreme Court of the United States (Kermit L. Hall, ed., forthcoming 2005).

"Campaign Finance", in The Encyclopedia of Libertarianism (Thomas Palmer, ed., forthcoming 2005).

"The Meaning of Article I, Section 2", in The Heritage Guide to the Constitution (David F. Forte, ed., forthcoming, 2005).

"Electoral Process and the First Amendment", in Supplement II: Encyclopedia of the American Constitution (Leonard W. Levy et al. eds., 1999).

Studies and Reports

"Restrictions on Political Speech", in Cato Handbook for Congress (Cato Institute 1997, 1999).

Campaign Finance Reform: Faulty Assumptions, Undemocratic Consequences, (Cato Institute, Sept. 1995).

Medical Savings Accounts and 'Real World' Health Care Economics in Ohio, (with Sam Staley) (Buckeye Institute for Public Policy Solutions, June 1994).

Does a Unified Bar Make Sense for Michigan, (Mackinac Center for Public Policy, May 1994).

"Do We Really Want an Army of Health Police?" in Dangerous Medicine, A Critical Study of the Clinton Health Plan (Mackinac Center for Public Policy, April 1994).

Non-Academic Journals

Let the Grassroots 'Lobbying' Grow, written with Stephen M. Hoersting, National Republic Online, Feb. 21, 2006

Boomerang!, National Review, May 3, 2004, p. 31.

The Trouble With Campaign Finance Regulation, Imprimus, Apr. 2002, p. 1.

The Gaggers and Gag Making, National Review, Mar. 11, 2002, p. 33.

Reform Tramples First Amendment, American Legion Magazine, Oct. 2001, p. 11.

Book Review: Commodity and Propriety: Competing Visions of Property in American Legal Thought, 1776-1970, by Gregory Alexander, The Freeman, May 1999, p. 65.

Campaign Finance: Response to Letters, Commentary, Mar. 1998, p. 6.

Campaign Finance Reform: Faulty Assumptions & Undemocratic Consequences, USA Today Magazine, Jan. 1998, p. 10.

The Campaign-Finance Follies, Commentary, Dec. 1997, p. 37.

Caveat Emptor: Good Government Group Polls on Campaign Reform Questions Are Suspicious, Political Finance & Lobby Reporter, Dec. 24, 1997, p. 1.

Should Committing Politics Be A Crime? The Case for Deregulating Campaign Finance, Free Speech & Election Law News, Spring, 1997, p. 3.

Why Healthcare Reform May Unleash A New Litigation Explosion, Postgraduate Medicine, Nov. 15, 1994, p. 91.

Newspaper Columns

Block the Vote, Abusing Election Laws to Prevent Competition, Washington Post, Aug. 20, 2006

The reformers' earmark, Washington Times, Apr. 15, 2006

"Play by the Same Rules? What Rules?", Roll Call, Feb. 9, 2006

"Stifling in the Name of Reform", Washington Times, Nov. 10, 2003, p. A19.

"No Money Where Your Mouth Is", Wall Street Journal, May 8, 2003, p. A18.

"Enron Didn’t Corrupt Washington", Wall Street Journal, Feb. 12, 2002, p. A22.

"Campaign Reform Tramples Law to Aid Incumbents", Charleston (W.Va.) Gazette-Mail, April 15, 2001, p. 1C.

"Free Speech Costs Money: On Campaign Finance, Let’s Get Down to Cases", Wall Street Journal, Mar. 29, 2001, p. A14.

"McCain-Feingold Will Hurt the Little Guy", Wall Street Journal, Mar. 20, 2001, p. A22.

"Campaign Finance: Block Those Limits", Newsday, March 18, 2001, p. B04.

"Enjoy the Campaign: You’re Paying for It", Wall Street Journal, Aug. 18, 2000, p. A14.

"First, Raise Hard Money Limits", USA Today, Nov. 23, 1999, p. 18A.

"Reform Bill Unconstitutional", USA Today, May 20, 1999, p. 14A.

"Perjury is Always a Serious Offense", Columbus Dispatch, Oct. 17, 1998, p. 10A.

"Our Freedom is at Stake", USA Today, July 8, 1997, p. A10.

"Why Campaign Finance Reform Never Works", Wall Street Journal, Mar. 19, 1997, p. A19.

"Legal Billing: Is the Meter Broken?" Wall Street Journal, Jan. 26, 1997, p. A22.

"Foreign Contributions Taint Democrats", Columbus Dispatch, Nov. 1, 1996, p. A8.

"Laws Backfire on Public", USA Today, Oct. 10, 1996, p. A14.

"Time to Go Negative", Wall Street Journal, Oct. 8, 1996, p. A22.

"Democracy Wins Two Major Victories", Columbus Dispatch, July 13, 1996, p. A10.

"Primary Spending Lessons", Washington Times, March 13, 1996, p. A16.

"Third Party Chatter Ducks Tough Decisions", Chicago Tribune, Dec. 5, 1995, p. 25.

"Money Myths Fuel Faulty Campaign Finance Reform", Detroit News, Nov. 9, 1995, p. 14A.

"Four Myths That Fuel Faulty Campaign Finance Reform", The Hill, Oct. 11, 1995, p. 28.

"Campaign Finance - Deformed", Wall Street Journal, Oct. 6, 1995, p. A12.

"Political Spending Excessive? Facts May Prove Surprising", Columbus Dispatch, Aug. 15, 1995, p. A7.

"Congress Shall Make No Law...", Washington Times, Dec. 29, 1994, p. A19.

"The Health Police Are Coming", Wall Street Journal, Dec. 16, 1993, p. A18.

"Bum Rap: Much-maligned Harding Cured Nation's Malaise", Columbus Dispatch, Aug. 2, 1993, p. 7A.

"Compelled Into Class Action", Wall Street Journal, Jan. 5, 1993, p. A14.

"Insurance Act Essentially Flawed", Detroit News, Mar. 4, 1986, p. 17A.

Important Pro Bono Amicus Briefs

McLaughlin v. North Carolina Board of Elections, petition for cert. denied, 517 U.S. 1104 (1996).

Norman v. Reed, 502 U.S. 279 (1992).

CLE Programs

Practising Law Institute, Washington, D.C., “Campaign Finance Reform: What Congress and the FEC Should Do Next,” Sept., 2002.

Columbus Bar Association Young Lawyers' Committee, Columbus, OH, "Removal: A Guide to the Basics," April 26, 1996 and May 3, 1995.

Institute for Business Law, Columbus, OH, "Trends in Immigration Law," Feb. 23, 1994.