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January 22nd, 2010 10:05 am
The White House v. Free Speech
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If there were any lingering questions about this Administration’s stance on free speech, all doubt was removed last night when the White House issued this response:

“With its ruling today, the Supreme Court has given a green light to a new stampede of special interest money in our politics. It is a major victory for big oil, Wall Street banks, health insurance companies and the other powerful interests that marshal their power every day in Washington to drown out the voices of everyday Americans.”

Right.  When did censorship become as popular as organic foods in this country?  Mr. President, you also failed to mention that this decision will be a huge boon for unions, major contributors to your campaign and the Democratic Party.  Citizens United is a victory for both the left and the right, a victory for anyone who is opposed to jailing someone over broadcasting a political position.

This Administration claims to be “liberal,” yet it also took the position that banning books that contained one line of advocacy was a felony.  What would have happened if McCain-Feingold were around in the 18th Century when the Federalist Papers were being printed with small business paper?  Locking people up for political speech is as American as burning books or jailing political enemies.  Why stop now, Mr. President?

The end of the world is still far off in the distance.  As former Federal Election Commission Chairman Bradley A. Smith mentioned today, 28 states already allow corporate and “special interest” spending.  States like Oregon, Virginia and Utah are hardly known as bastions for corrupt political activity, even though they allow corporations to take a stance when issues are debated in the public circle.

Harsh critics of Free Speech claim that because corporations don’t vote that they shouldn’t be afforded basic First Amendment protections.  So, if the First Amendment doesn’t apply to corporations, perhaps they shouldn’t pay taxes?

The Supreme Court has already held that the Constitution, in most parts, applies to corporate entities.  Is the First Amendment inapplicable when the actor grows richer?  What about the Takings Clause in the Fifth Amendment?  Should corporations and other for-profit entities be denied due process of the law simply because they don’t vote?  I’m sure politicians would approve of that but thankfully they haven’t overturned the Fifth Amendment … yet.

Lacking voting rights is an argument for this decision, not against it.  Corporations and non-profits lack the right to vote and can’t even contribute directly to political parties unless they choose to form expensive political action committees (PAC).  Independent expenditures are one of the few ways businesses can influence legislation that has a direct impact on their existence.

Let’s also remember that 99% of corporations in the U.S. aren’t rich or powerful.  The language in McCain-Feingold was woefully overbroad and applied to every entity from General Electric to your local florist.

Americans should be rejoicing because the Administration and most politicians hate this decision.  That’s wonderful. Anything that upsets career politicians is normally good for the rest of the country.   Then again, Congress should be happy; their enemies are no longer hidden behind the veil of those evil 527 groups.

With the blackballing of Fox News, his appointment of Justice Sotomayor, who voted against free speech, and his response to Citizens United, President Obama has made clear what many suspected years ago.  The President is not a fan of free speech, that is unless he’s breaking campaign promises and drowning out his opponent with over $700 million in union-funded spending.  As much as his speech might have been repulsive to some, President Obama had every right to spend money spreading his views.

Maybe it’s not free speech to which the President is opposed; maybe it’s just a little healthy competition.

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