The Democrats and the NY Times are howling about the SCOTUS decision which effectively rendered the anti-First Amendment McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance Law moot.
Essentially their argument boils down to “the public is too stupid to be able to separate the political wheat from the chaff and must be protected from political advertising by corporate entities with an agenda”.
Of course, advertising by politicians with an agenda is just peachy keen.
Reality: anyone or any group which advertised during a political campaign has an agenda. In America, per the 1st Amendment, they have the freedom to pursue it. Or should have that freedom, anyway. McCain-Feingold limited or prohibited that freedom and what SCOTUS did to overturn those prohibitions is long overdue.
Judge Andrew Napalitano gives us a good rundown of the ruling:
The Supreme Court today invalidated its own 20 year old ruling on group political contributions and it also invalidated a portion of the McCain-Feingold Campaign finance law. The 20 year old ruling had prohibited all political expenditures by groups such as corporations, labor unions, and advocacy groups (like the NRA and Planned Parenthood). Ruling that all persons, individually and in groups, have the same unfettered free speech rights, the Court blasted Congress for suppression of that speech. Thus, from today forward, all groups are free to spend their own money on their own political campaigns and to mention the names of the candidates.
The Court also threw out the portion of McCain-Feingold that had permitted persons to contribute to Political Action Committees (PACs), but barred those PACs from using those funds in the sixty day period preceding an election. Since that sixty day period preceding the election is the most vital in any campaign, the Court held that the prohibition on expenditures during that time was a violation of the free speech guaranteed to all persons, individually and in groups, by the First Amendment.
Thus, as a result of the ruling today, all groups may spend their own money as they wish on their own campaigns, but they still may not–as groups–contribute directly to political campaigns. The direct political contribution prohibition in McCain-Feingold was not challenged in this case, thus its constitutionality was not an issue before the Court. Groups will thus effectively be running and financing their own campaigns for candidates on their own.
That means the FEC no longer has a say in what is or isn’t appropriate or who can or can’t run what during an election season. Apparently, according to Napalitano, one of the questions asked by Justice Scalia which elicited an answer from the FEC infuriated most of the justices:
During the course of oral argument on this case in October in the Supreme Court, one of the FEC’s lawyers replied to a question from Justice Antonin Scalia to the effect that the FEC could ban books if they were paid for by corporations, labor unions, or advocacy groups. This highly un-American statement in the Supreme Court–that the federal government can ban books–infuriated a few of the justices.
Anyone reading this want to raise their hand and back book banning?
Democrats are concentrating their ire on the fact that the court found that a corporation has the same right to express itself as an individual. It is another battle in their long war against corporate America. It’s not an effective or particularly compelling argument. A PAC isn’t an individual but enjoyed the same advertising rights as an individual. Why shouldn’t a corporation enjoy them as well? So don’t get balled up in their nonsense argument. The fact remains that free speech doesn’t discriminate. It means free speech for all, regardless of what group or entity represented.
This is a long overdue dismantling of a anti-liberty law. Most people understand that fundamental truth. And most people also understand that government should not be in the business of deciding who can or can’t speak out during a political campaign. In fact, the fundamental purpose of the 1st Amendment was the protection of political speech. Congress seems to have lost sight of that.
Any argument for the reinstatement of this law or any law which resembles it is an argument to limit political speech. While you may not be happy with the fact that you’ll now see even more advertising than before, it is a fundamental victory for liberty and those that love liberty should applaud it.