2020 Election SparksCivil Liberties

2020 Elections & Civil Liberties: Campaigning

Posted on in 2020 Election Sparks · Civil Liberties

The 2020 election was the most expensive in history by a wide margin. More money was spent by candidates for federal office in 2020 than in 2016 and 2012 combined. This largely happened because in last few years the Supreme Court has struck down limits on campaign spending and donations on Freedom of Speech grounds. The court has declared repeatedly that campaign spending is a form of free speech which must be protected.

2020 also presented a new challenge for campaigns due to the pandemic. Many state and local governments banned mass gatherings which prevented campaigns from holding the types of political events they normally hold. This shows the conflict between freedom of assembly and the power of state and local governments to protect public health and safety. Although the court has recognized that state local governments do have the power to take actions for public health and safety, it has not been clear about where the line is between individual rights and the power of state and local governments.

Instructors, click the link below to download this week’s lecture for use in your classroom. The deck contains a writing prompt and a debate question as well as other assessment questions.

Download the PowerPoint Lecture Spark for “Civil Liberties"


“Money Tracker: How Much Have Trump and Biden Raised in the 2020 Election”

“Total 2020 Election Spending to Hit Nearly $14 Billion, More than Double 2016’s Sum”

“Pelosi, Democrats Renew Push to Overhaul Election, Campaign Finance Law”

“Trump Campaign Cancels Campaign Rally in Alabama as Coronavirus Cases Rise”

“Trump Rally in Reno Cancelled Due to Covid-19 Restrictions”

“Jacksonville Attorneys File Lawsuit to Block City From Hosting Republican National Convention Amid Pandemic”

“COVID-19 and the First Amendment”


  • Debate: Should campaign spending be considered free speech? What about political spending by corporations and labor unions?
  • Should there be limits on campaign donations?
  • Poll: Should state and local governments be able to limit campaign events due to public health concerns?             
  • Short Answer: Why is campaign spending so high in the US?

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Featured Image Credit: Thru_the_Glass

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