Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Good news for free speech -- so the Left hate it

I can do no better than to quote Taranto on this:
"Next month before the usual October start to its term, the U.S. Supreme Court will hold an unusual rehearing of a case it declined to decide in the 2008-09 term, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. This case involves the regulation of campaign speech, and the court is expected to consider whether to overturn a pair of precedents: Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce (1990), which held that a ban on corporate funding of campaigns does not violate the First Amendment, and McConnell v. Federal Election Commission (2003), which upheld a ban on corporate-funded speech that so much as mentions the name of a political candidate.

Ruth Marcus of the Washington Post is alarmed at the prospect:
Overruling Austin would be a disaster, and curtailing McCain-Feingold [the statute upheld in McConnell] only slightly less so. The floodgates would be opened for corporations, and labor unions, to run ads supporting or attacking candidates--not only in federal campaigns, but in the 22 states that now prohibit such spending. The only restriction would be that they couldn’t give to candidates directly.

Imagine the 2010 election in a post-Austin world, with drug companies going after members of Congress who vote against their interests, or banks targeting lawmakers who backed tighter regulation. It’s not as if these industries lack political power now, but consider what kind of legislation would result if lawmakers had to fear that an industry they defied could spend an unlimited amount to defeat them at the next election.

It would be a disaster! The floodgates would be open! But to what exactly? It’s important to note that when Marcus refers to “attacking candidates,” she does not mean it literally. No one asserts that the First Amendment protects murder and mayhem. No, what we’re about here is criticizing candidates--also known as free speech. And this is political speech, traditionally understood to be at the very core of First Amendment protection.



Stan B said...

Politics has always been a dirty, nasty business, and money has always ruled the roost. McCain-Feingold was about punishing those who Congress at that time disliked, and rewarding those it did like.

Now the Supreme Court may say that there is no difference between Exxon and T. Boon Pickens when it comes to political activism.

Corporations are nothing more than large groups of people who have organized a business (or invested in one). Funny how Gun Rights are only "corporate" but Free Speech is "individual."

Anonymous said...

Funny how this "democracy" works. Everyone has a voice, except the people. No, there may not be much difference between Exxon and Pickens because of their unlimited cash, but how do the people compete with them? How do the people get their voices heard, and their wants and needs met? And please, don't say "by voting". Voting is the biggest scam in this country. It's (only) purpose is to keep the sheeple passive.

It is wealth that creates power, just like power creates wealth. (Notice the word "vote" is not part of the equation)

Anonymous said...

I am all for free speech but at the same time I am saddened that I may have to turn off my television for several months at a time when any election cycle comes around.

And Stan B, I'm always amazed by how the gun rights/speech rights play out too. I was always taught that the first ten were the bill or rights for the individual, unless of course they are trying to curb those rights.

Robert said...

Rights have always correctly belonged to individuals, not groups, and that can never change. Corporations are composed of individuals, each of whom retains his rights. Incorporating does not affect an owner's rights to his property (including life and liberty) or conscience, or any other real (natural) rights. Current restrictions on free speech violate those rights. Laws that forbid what is lawful are tyrannical. Laws that permit what is unlawful are criminal.

Anonymous said...

The news media is generally against free speech that is not theirs.

Anonymous, consider that the people CAN be heard. Yes Exxon would be able to purchase adds in the companies interest, and we know that the company is run by fish and trees. It would also take restrictions off of collections of people like the NRA or NAACP. Or even AARP (though it seems to be half business half org).

The abomination of a ruling upholding McCain/Feingold was just dumb. They had to avoid the 'appearance' of corruption by restricting free political speech. So to avoid the appearance of corruption you are corrupt ???

Anonymous said...

If a corporation is a group of individuals, do those individuals get to choose what political message the corporation puts out, or which political candidate it endorses or attacks?
It is like the unions, who take any members money to endorse who the leaders want, regardless of who the individual supports. Should that be legal? Is that free speech for the individual, or paid speech for the organization?

Anonymous said...

You all make very good points. No, it's not right for a union to take the members dues and use that money to further their own political agenda, one that may not reflect their members views. But they do, because the people are weak!

And Robert, in the real world, "rights" belong to those who have the wealth and power to keep them!

Anon 5:20, it's not about large corporations buying adds to further their own (not their employees) interests. It's about them buying the elected officials who make laws and policy, and who are supposed to be speaking for all of us, not just those who can buy them.

Remember, the only difference between a "campaign contribution" and a "bribe", is that the people receiving them write the laws.

The 2nd American Revolution is long overdue!

Anonymous said...

Anon 5:20 again

Since you hate corporations you think they should be silenced?

I think you missed my point. It is not about the mega-corp getting to speak, nor the NRA. It is about EVERYONE getting to speak.

Since the restrictions on speech have you seen people like George Soros silenced? If so you are missing his front organizations. Guess what the mega-corps were not silenced either. All that occurred was the speaker was less obvious but the message was the same. Further if as an individual you wanted to place an add since you had knowledge of the COngressman in your district you had better be sure to do it 'right' or go to JAIL.

More speech is better. The first amendment says no law shall be created... seems we need to vote out every incumbent until they understand that (and impeach some judges)

Anonymous said...

With the current residents of Washington, there is plenty to criticize!