Joel Gora

Professor of Law

250 Joralemon Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201
(718) 780-7926 |  Email  | CV
Areas of Expertise

Campaign Finance
Election Law
Civil Liberties
Freedom of Speech
Media Law

B.A., Pomona College
LL.B., Columbia Law School

SCOTUSblog: Ask the author: Adler and others on “Business and the Roberts Court”


Professor Joel Gora's chapter in the new book “Business and the Roberts Court” is highlighted and described as an “excellent chapter” by the editor.

The Huffington Post: Larry Lessig Takes His Plan To Congress


Professor Joel Gora believes imposing limits and restrictions on campaign financing denies people opportunities to exercise their democratic rights.

Professor Joel Gora on Campaign Finance, the Roberts Court and Citizens United


In the new book Business and the Roberts Court (Oxford University press 2016), Professor Joel Gora provides insight into how campaign finance law can be faithful to the protections of speech, press, and association in the First Amendment. His chapter, “In The Business of Free Speech: The Roberts Court and Citizens United,” examines the Roberts Court's handling of free speech and business-related cases through a series of empirical and doctrinal analyses.

The Center for Public Integrity: Sanders, Clinton want campaign finance overhaul, but face huge obstacles


Professor Joel Gora thinks a constitutional amendment to overturn Buckley and Citizens United would be "a dreadful idea."

Examining Buckley v. Valeo, 40 Years Later


Jan. 30 marked the 40th Anniversary of Buckley v. Valeo, the U.S. Supreme Court case that continues to have a significant impact on campaign finance law. As one of the original attorneys who helped to litigate the case on behalf of the ACLU and argued before the Supreme Court, Professor Joel Gora is leading or participating in a number of high-profile events focused on the anniversary.

Professor Joel Gora on the Roberts Court and Future of Free Speech


As the new U.S. Supreme Court term opened on Monday, Oct. 5, Professor Joel Gora says that “the [Chief Justice] Roberts Court may well be the most speech-protective Court in a generation – if not in the nation’s history – reaffirming and expanding extraordinary protection for free speech in a variety of settings.”

Professor Joel Gora on Trump, de Blasio, and the First Amendment


In Inside Counsel's"First Amendment likely to protect Donald Trump on NYC contracts," Professor Joel Gora explains why what NYC Mayor de Blasio is threatening against Donald Trump raises serious First Amendment issues.

Institutional Investor: Chris Christie Takes Heat for Hedge Fund Donations


Professor Joel Gora explains how campaign contributions are a form of free speech.

Professor Joel Gora Discusses Citizens United Five Years Later


On Jan. 21, 2015, five years after the controversial campaign finance decision Citizens United v. FEC was handed down by the Supreme Court, leading scholars including Professor Joel Gora gathered to discuss the impact of the case on politics and the future of the First Amendment. The conference, “Citizens United v. FEC after Five Years,” was sponsored by the Center for Competitive Politics and held at the Cato Institute in Washington, D.C.

Professor Joel Gora Comments on Campaign Finance Reform in New York Times Op-Ed

Professor Joel Gora, a sought-after expert on election law, the First Amendment, and campaign finance policy, has spoken out against campaign contribution limits under the Federal Election Campaign Act Amendments (FECA) in a New York Times editorial, contributing to a debate marking the 40th anniversary of FECA’s enactment.

Professor Joel Gora on McCutcheon v. FEC in New York Daily News Op-Ed


In a New York Daily News op-ed, Professor Joel Gora asserted that the Supreme Court's ruling in McCutcheon v. FEC will only serve to strengthen democracy and free speech. “Today’s decision is based on settled campaign finance law and vital First Amendment rights of free speech and political participation,” he wrote. “It’s a result we should all celebrate, whether you’re a conservative or a liberal.”

Professor Joel Gora Speaks on the State of U.S. Democracy in New Video


Professor Joel Gora was a guest panelist at the recent 20th Annual Edward Brodsky Legal Conference, sponsored by the Anti-Defamation League. Titled “American Democracy in the 21st Century: Voting Rights, Redistricting and Campaign Finance,” the high-profile event drew more than 300 attendees – several BLS alumni among them – for a conversation that touched on Citizens United, gerrymandering, and the Voting Rights Act, among other timely topics.

Professor Joel Gora Writes in Defense of Super PACs on Election Law Blog


Election Law Blog recently featured an excerpt of a new article by Professor Joel Gora defending Super PACs as a First Amendment right. The article, published in Seton Hall Law Review, argues that Super PACs not only provide a political voice for all speakers, but also have a long history stretching past the controversial Citizens United decision in 2010.

Professor Joel Gora Comments on Campaign Finance Limits in the National Law Journal


In a recent article in the National Law Journal, Professor Joel Gora spoke recently about the state of campaign finance law. An advocate for campaign finance deregulation, Professor Gora remarked that contribution limits are no longer the best enforcer of transparency. Rather, the Internet serves as a more powerful tool for voters and the public at large the information they seek.

Professor Joel Gora on “Outside” Money in Daily News Op-Ed


In a New York Daily News op-ed, Professor Joel Gora praised the recent ruling by a New York federal appeals court that limitations on contributions to independent political organizations — or “super PACs” — are likely unconstitutional.

Professor Joel Gora Lends Expertise to Campaign Finance and First Amendment Issues


With campaign finance law restrictions and First Amendment rights in the headlines, Professor Joel Gora — one of the country’s most renowned authorities in these fields — has been frequently called upon to share his expertise.

Professor Joel Gora Comments on Campaign Finance Case in USA Today


In a USA Today article, Professor Joel Gora offered context in advance of McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, the Supreme Court’s first major case of the fall 2013 term.

Professor Joel Gora on Tattoos and the First Amendment

Professor Joel Gora spoke to the Brooklyn Daily Eagle about a recent Arizona Supreme Court case that held tattoos as protected free speech under the First Amendment. Professor Gora, an expert on First Amendment law, agreed with the decision.

Professor Joel Gora on the Lawyers of Presidential Candidates


In a recent article for Bloomberg Law, Professor Joel Gora spoke about lawyers who have made their careers representing presidential candidates. The specialized lawyers, who help create and repeal election laws between election seasons, have earned their firms over $50 million since 1999.

Professor Joel Gora Comments on Super PACs on CNN

With the Supreme Court’s decision of Citizens United v. FEC, political experts are estimating that very wealthy anonymous donors will spend over $6 billion during the 2012 election season. Professor Joel Gora however defended the decision and the power of super PACS to CNN.

Professor Joel Gora on Campaign Fundraising from 1970s to Today

Professor Joel Gora was interviewed by the Associated Press about various laws that have restricted campaign fundraising over the last few decades. “These laws are restricting outsiders, whether liberal or left-wing outsiders or conservative and right-wing outsiders,” he said.

Professor Joel Gora Presents at Cato Institute's Constitution Day

Professor Joel Gora spoke at a panel for the Cato Institute's annual Constitution Day Symposium entitled, "Elections, Video Games, Scholarships: Another Big Year for the First Amendment." Along with other constitutional experts, he discussed government funding of political speech.

Professor Joel Gora on Citizens United at Center for Competitive Politics


Professor Joel Gora, an academic advisor at the Center for Competitive Politics, discussed the controversial Supreme Court decision on Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which allowed corporations to financially support political candidates. Professor Gora supported the decision, calling it "an endorsement of First Amendment protections for the the political speech of corporate, labor, and non-profit entities."

Professor Joel Gora Testifies Against Obama's Executive Order

Professor Joel Gora, a former ACLU attorney, contributed written testimony opposing President Obama's draft executive order concerning political spending disclosures by federal constractors. As one of several experts testifying to the House of Representatives, Professor Gora outlined problems with the President's plan to reform campaign finance requirements.

Professor Joel Gora's Op-Ed on Citizens United Case Anniversary in The Wall Street Journal

Professor Joel Gora's op-ed, featured in the Wall Street Journal, explores the impact of Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission one year later. The Court's ruling of the case determined that under the First Amendment, corporations have the same rights as individuals to promote or criticize political candidates. Although the decision itself has been widely denounced, Professor Gora argues that it "affirmed that individuals don't lose their rights when they organize as a corporation."

Professor Joel Gora Participates in MRLC Supreme Court Round Table

Professor Joel Gora participated in the Media Resources Law Center Supreme Court Roundtable, "The Roberts Court and The First Amendment." The Roundtable included written arguments shared by panelists to the MRLC website on the 2010 Supreme Court under Justice John Roberts. Professor Gora was joined by Floyd Abrams and Paul Smiths, two of the top First Amendment lawyers in the country.

Professor Joel Gora Presents at Georgia State University School of Law Symposium

Professor Joel Gora will speak at the Georgia State University School of Law's symposium "An Intersection of Laws: Citizens United v. FEC". Featuring legal experts and law professors from around the country, the symposium will discuss the controversial Supreme Court decision Citizens United v. FEC and how the case intersects with First Amendment Law, Corporate Law, and Election Law.

Professor Joel Gora Comments on a Recent Supreme Court First Amendment case in The New York Times’ "Room For Debate"


In his piece,"Beware of Little Exceptions," Professor Joel Gora argues that the famous principle of free thought, "not free thought for those who agree with us but freedom for the thought that we hate" has informed the importance of U.S. Constitutional tolerance of messages that "most of us find intolerable and unacceptable, but which we must tolerate and accept because even more unacceptable is letting the government decide which ideas are acceptable and which are not."

Professor Joel Gora to Speak at Wayne State University Panel Discussion “Are Corporations Citizens?”

Professor Joel Gora will present a lecture for “Are Corporations Citizens?”, a panel discussion sponsored by Wayne State University’s Center for the Study of Citizenship on September 16. The panel will explore the outcomes of the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which determined that corporate spending on electoral campaigns is a First Amendment right that cannot be limited.

Prof. Gora Discusses the Paradox of Re-electing Incumbents

Despite the public's generally low approval rate of Congress, on average 95% of incumbents are re-elected. Professor Joel Gora, with Peter Wallison, explores this paradox in "Burying the Incumbent Protection Racket," in The Journal of the American Enterprise Institute. He explains that political parties, unlike independent groups, are greatly limited in the amount of funding they are allowed to use to support their candidates. While challengers begin their campaigns with few resources, incumbent politicians have a step up with both name recognition and the power to pass potentially self-serving election laws.

Prof. Gora on Campaign Finance Restriction in Wall Street Journal Op-Ed

In an editorial for the Wall Street Journal, Professor Joel Gora, along with Floyd Abrams and Ira Glasser, explores the ACLU’s new stance on campaign finance restrictions. Until recently, the ACLU was among the only liberal groups to defend limitless campaign contributions as protected by the First Amendment. It now accepts “reasonable government limitations on contributions to candidates,” a position, Professor Gora argues, that will ultimately favor incumbents and lessen the voice of challengers.

Professor Gora on Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission

Professor Joel Gora was quoted in Inside Counsel on the Supreme Court case Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which dealt with the consitutionality of current campaign finance rules. An expert on election law, he represented the ACLU as amicus in the case. He told Inside Counsel: "The broader questions [of the act's constitutionality] were put into play by the very broad arguments the government made to support the right to control the speech of a corporation. The court felt a duty to protect the First Amendment rights against such official overreaching by striking down the whole statute."

Professor Gora in the New York Times' Room for Debate on Supreme Court Campaign Finance Decision


The New York Times Opinion Section's Room for Debate, which maintains a running commentary on recent news, explored the political spending case Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. The Supreme Court has ruled that campaign finance restriction violates the First Amendment, thereby removing any bans on political spending by corporations and labor unions. In his contribution to the Room for Debate discussion "Restoring Free Speech in Elections," Professor Joel Gora, who has a long history with the ACLU, applauded the decision. He explained that by invalidating the ban, "the Court emphasized what no one seriously disputes: the primary purpose of the First Amendment's guarantees of freedom of speech, press, assembly and petition is to enhance democracy by insuring an informed electorate capable of self-government."

Professor Gora Op-Ed in the New York Times

The Supreme Court will hear rearguments on a case about the documentary Hillary: The Movie, on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The case concerns Citizens United, the conservative nonprofit group who produced the film, who attempted to broadcast commercials for it during the 2008 presidential election but were barred by the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law. The issue was brought to court with opponents arguing that the restriction violated the First Amendment. The New York Times featured a series of op-eds, including one from Professor Joel Gora, on the case that could potentially remake campaign finance legislation. In his piece, Professor Gora asked a fundamental question to the case: Can the government prevent a corporation from criticizing the people who run the government?

Professor Joel Gora's Book on Campaign Finance Reviewed in The American Spectator

Better Parties, Better Government: A Realistic Program for Campaign Finance Reform by Peter J. Wallison and Professor Joel Gora was featured in the September issue of The American Spectator with warm reviews. The book, published in May 2009, covers campaign finance reform and the McCain-Feingold Act of 2002. Reviewer Tom Bethell says of Professor Gora's work, "it is extremely well written, almost qualifying as a page-turner."

Professor Joel Gora Publishes Better Parties, Better Government

Professor Joel Gora and Peter J. Wallison have published Better Parties, Better Government: A Realistic Program for Campaign Reform, which tackles the campaign finance problems of regulations, exemptions, and safe harbors. They explain how the most necessary reform is the end of restrictions on spending by political parties.