Posts Tagged ‘1st Amendment’

I’ve been asked by a reader to comment about Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision to strike down campaign finance laws that restricted the ability of people to participate in the political process. I am very happy with this decision because the main goal of campaign finance laws is to protect incumbents by limiting the amount of money (which enables speech) that can be spent. This, of course, makes it harder for challengers and critics to publicize negative information about incumbents or positive information about alternatives. I know that many companies and unions (both of which are collections of individuals) will now spend money in ways that will irritate me, but so what? The 1st Amendment protects other forms of speech I don’t like, but that doesn’t me I want to ban speech – or should be allowed to ban speech if I was a low-life politician. Obviously, it’s good news that the Supreme Court is protecting us from politicians who want to restrict speech they don’t like. Matt Welch of Reason has a great article on CNN:

Free speech really does mean free speech, and the laws that the “Citizens” ruling overturned directly and heinously restricted the stuff. …Citizens United, a conservative 501(c)(4) nonprofit that has funded a dozen political documentaries over the years, produced a critical documentary about Hillary Clinton in 2008 entitled “Hillary: The Movie.” By a decision of the federal government, which was enforcing the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (known more broadly as McCain-Feingold), this piece of political speech was banned from television. Let’s boil it down to the essential words: Political documentary, banned, government. You don’t have to be a First Amendment purist to intuit that political speech was, if anything, the most urgent subcategory covered by the First Amendment’s “Congress shall pass no law” restrictions. …As Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in his majority opinion, “The law before us is an outright ban, backed by criminal sanctions. Section 441b makes it a felony for all corporations — including nonprofit advocacy corporations — either to expressly advocate the election or defeat of candidates or to broadcast electioneering communications within 30 days of a primary election and 60 days of a general election. … If the First Amendment has any force, it prohibits Congress from fining or jailing citizens, or associations of citizens, for simply engaging in political speech.” …As the Supreme Court rightly noted today, “The First Amendment confirms the freedom to think for ourselves.”

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