Friday, January 22, 2010

A Victory for Free Speech

Patrick Frey on the Supreme Court decision to slap down government censorship of political speech.

The case arose from the federal government banning the showing of a film about Hillary Clinton too close to Election Day. That power was granted by the infamous McCain-Feingold law that limits campaign donations and political speech. It is the same unconstitutional law that saw to it Michael Moore couldn't promote his anti-Bush diatribe "Fahernheit 9/11" months before Election Day 2004.

Either we all have free speech, even idiots like Moore, or none of us do.

Obama and the Democrats are trying to claim this is a victory for corporations that want to influence elections. Maybe it is. But is also a victory for Free Speech and the Constitution that demands "Congress shall make no law..." abridging the freedom of speech. This is a defeat for politicians and government censors who want to control what can be said about them when it matters most.

UPDATE: More from Jonathan Tobin here.

UPDATE II: Joe Sestak voicing his postition on government control and censorship of political speech. He's for it.
"I disagree with today's Supreme Court decision that gives the same status to corporations as to individual citizens in society by removing decades-old precedents that protected the electoral process from the influence of money. Corporations/unions are not equal members of society as an individual citizen. And I believe that any step that can be taken toward removing the influence of money, including through public financing of campaigns, would be significant for restoring public trust in our public institutions and their integrity. I would not have voted to place those Supreme Court Justices -- Thomas, Alito and Scalia -- on the Court as Senator Specter did. This demonstrates why it is important to have the right type of Democratic Senator who truly believes in the rights of individuals as opposed to what is best for corporations."
Public financing of campaigns. That's the ticket. Force citizens to "involuntarily" contribute to political campaigns. There's a step in the right direction.


Blogger Bob Bohne said...

Gil - Couldn't this lead to increased corporate manipulation of voters to vote for what is in the best interest of a certain corporation, or for that matter, a labor organization, at the expense of what is in the best interest of the country?

January 23, 2010 at 11:34 AM 
Blogger Spencerblog said...

Yes. But what has governmental control of political speech done to help make the country better?

Free speech and the freedom to spend money to get it out is almost always better than allowing government to decide the limits of what reaches the marketplace of free ideas.

January 23, 2010 at 6:38 PM 
Blogger Bob Bohne said...

Gil - I don't understand your logic. You answered yes to my question, but then you suggest that since the camel has his nose under the tent, we should just let him in. I thought the constitution was written for the people, not for corporations. What next? Should we ease any and all restrictions on lobbiests? I thought the constitution was written to protect the people of this country, not to allow corporations to use it as a tool to influence the masses and improve the bottom line. Shouldn't there be a distinction between the rights of indiduals and the rights of corporations?

January 23, 2010 at 7:29 PM 
Blogger Spencerblog said...

To answer your question: No.

Afterall, what is a corporation but a group of people who voluntarily get together to do something? Make a product. Make a profit. Share a message. Whatever.

In the case of "Hillary: The Movie" the makers wanted to share a point of view but doing so was forbidden by the government.

The same for Michael Moore whose corporation wanted to promote "Fahrenheit 9/11" during the election cycle but was forbidden by government edict from doing so.

The New York Times and FOX News are corporations too. Aren't their owners trying to use their power to influence people and make a profit? Yet, they're exempt from such government restriction. Why shouldn't other corporations and people be allowed the same freedoms as the owners of the New York Times?

January 23, 2010 at 10:01 PM 
Blogger Bob Bohne said...

Gil - Surely you can differentiate between freedom of the press and the political activities of a corporation like GM or Sunoco. After all, you write for a newspaper.

January 24, 2010 at 2:12 AM 
Blogger A Nonymous said...

NOW, Chinese and other foreign controlled corporations can have greater influence on US elections by directly advocating and buying air time for candidates.

Before, they were restricted to promoting an issue, rather than a specific candidate.

This is pure judicial activism. The GOP likes to claim their judges are "originalists", but I don't recall "We the Corporations" in the preamble.

Corporations don't vote. They are composed of people with individual rights. The 5 fools have now made corporations into some super-organism with effectively unlimited political power.

January 24, 2010 at 1:37 PM 
Blogger steve mcdonald said...

I would have assumed the two of you would be thrilled by this , seeing that the far left controls the media in this country.

January 25, 2010 at 9:47 AM 

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