Speech is free, but the soap box to stand on is not

The ink wasn’t dry on the Supreme Court’s 5-4 ruling lifting caps on aggregate campaign contributions in federal races before the usual Democratic suspects started squealing like pigs caught under a gate.

Of course, Harry Reid had to drag out his favorite whipping boys, the Koch brothers, and stomp on them like he was doing a Mexican hat dance.

“The Supreme Court today just accentuated what they did on Citizens United, which is a decision that is one of the worst decisions in the history of that court,” Reid said. “All it does is take away people’s rights because, as you know, the Koch brothers are trying to buy America.”

Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi (AP photo)

Pay no attention to the union organizations behind the curtain, you know those dozens of unions that contributed far, far more to Democrats then the Koch brothers, who rank 59th in the list of top campaign spenders, ever thought about spending.

If it is possible, Nancy Pelosi may have frothed even more than Harry on this topic, exclaiming, “Our founders risked their lives, their liberty and their sacred honor to create a democracy — a government of the many, not a government of the money. After misguided and destructive court decisions in McCutcheon and Citizens United, it is clear that Congress must act swiftly to restore fairness to our campaign finance system.”

In his opinion in McCutcheon v. FEC, Chief Justice John Roberts explained that the court has long held that Congress may regulate campaign contributions in an effort to avoid corruption or the appearance of corruption. Therefore, limits on how much one person may give to one candidate are OK, but limiting total spending by that one person is not.

“Money in politics may at times seem repugnant to some, but so too does much of what the First Amendment vigorously protects. If the First Amendment protects flag burning, funeral protests,and Nazi parades — despite the profound offense such spectacles cause — it surely protects political campaign speech despite popular opposition. …” Roberts writes. “Indeed, as we have emphasized, the First Amendment ‘has its fullest and most urgent application precisely to the conduct of campaigns for political office.’”

Roberts added that campaign finance restrictions that pursue objectives other than avoiding corruption are not permissible — such as trying to prevent someone from “buying” the country. He said that injects the government into the debate over who should govern. “And those who govern should be the last people to help decide who should govern,” he noted.





19 comments on “Speech is free, but the soap box to stand on is not

  1. nyp says:

    There you go. Our democracy has no right to try to restrict wealthy people from buying the political process.

  2. I did no know it was a for sale. I thought people could make decisions based on the content of the message not the volume of dollars.

  3. nyp says:

    Right. Hundreds of millions of dollars spent on attack ads have no more influence on people than a yard sign. That’s why rich guys like the Kochs and the Adelsons spend so much on political campaigns. They are simply too dumb to realize that the volume of dollars doesn’t matter.

  4. Steve says:

    Of it does not matter one little iota that many people who don’t have that kind of money happen to agree with the views it supports.
    Money gives voice to more people than the person doing the spending.
    Libby’s are upset conservative voices are getting some monetary support to counter their union and Soros money.

  5. nyp says:

    Yes, those poor beleagured 0.1 percent-ers. It is all they can do to stem the tide of money from the janitors’ union.

  6. Steve says:

    If it were only those “one preventers” you like to bash so much, they simply would not have the votes to win elections.
    There are a lot of average people who happen to agree with positions that money supports.

    Just like you libs like your union money.

  7. nyp says:

    Yup. They are mere pikers compared to the .001 percenters.
    “For example, this list does not include casino magnate Sheldon Adelson. He and his wife Miriam donated nearly $93 million in 2012 alone to conservative super PACs — enough to put him at No. 2 on this list. Similarly, the list excludes former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has donated more than $19 million in the past two years, largely to groups that support gun control. Neither Adelson nor Bloomberg — or the organizations they report as their employers — qualifies as a “heavy hitter” under our current definition. It’s also important to note that we aren’t including donations to politically active dark money groups, like Americans for Prosperity, a group linked to the Koch brothers, or the liberal group Patriot Majority — because these groups hide their donors; see a list of top donors that we’ve been able to identify to such groups. We are working to revise this list to take into account the new realities of campaign finance created by the Citizens United decision, but as it currently stands, there are significant omissions.”

  8. Steve says:

    The reason that disclaimer is of import is not for the omissions it describes but for the fact the omissions are on all sides. Based on that its not unreasonable to take the numbers, as they currently stand, at face value.

    Once more of that dark money is exposed to the light of day it will be shown it follows the publicly available numbers and the Kochs will remain at 59 on the list.

  9. Winston Smith says:

    A. You would think that the Senate Majority Leader would know that our nation was founded as a Constitutional Republic, not a democracy, AKA mobocracy.

    B. You would think that the Senate Majority Leader would know that as the federal (or any) government gets bigger, more and more money is used to influence that government. This isn’t exactly a newsflash, been happening for millennia. The fascist/globalist banksters who control our debauched fiat currency are merely the modern (and most heinous) example of this concept.

    Want to reduce the obscene amounts of money being spent during election cycles? Reduce the federal government’s size to its Constitutional bounds.

    War is Peace; Freedom is Slavery; Ignorance is Strength

    Reid seems to become Stronger every year…

  10. nyp says:

    Steve – you happen to be wrong. But, more importantly, you do not realize that (1) there is currently no way of exposing that dark money to the light of day; and (2) people like Mr. Mitchell are vehemently opposed to the sort of transparency of which you speak.

  11. Steve says:

    Opensecrets have a list and they are adding to it. Apparently Nyp fails to read his own copy pastes:
    Let me help:
    “see a list of top donors that we’ve been able to identify to such groups. We are working to revise this list to take into account the new realities of campaign finance created by the Citizens United decision, but as it currently stands, there are significant omissions.”

    BTW, Nyp, you are wrong.

  12. Steve says:

    Winston…the trouble with that is libs want only to eliminate conservative money…hence conservative voices. They have no wish to shrink government, as witnessed by the recent huge expansion of the welfare state…right on up and into the middle class. If it continues this way…the whole population will be “on the dole”

  13. Power attracts money like a magnet.

  14. nyp says:

    Isn’t the reverse also true?

  15. Government should be transparent. Private citizens … why do you think they are called “private” citizens? It is not a rank.

  16. nyp says:

    Steve – there is your answer. No “exposing that dark money to the light of day” for Mr. Mitchell!

    When you come up with all that dark money information, please let me know.

  17. Steve says:

    “When you come up with all that dark money information, please let me know.”

    Proving,,once again,,nyp fails to read his own copy pastes.

    Allow me to be of assistance,,,again.
    Opensecrets is working on it…here is the link nyp failed to read.

    Perhaps nyp doesn’t like it because it shows Sands and Adelson as “on the fence” meaning they donate equally to both sides. Or maybe its because that “dark money” seems to be pretty easy to identify…opensecrets sure has found a bunch of it!

    Schooled ya again.

  18. Rincon says:

    It’s obvious that money buys influence, otherwise, several presidential hopefuls wouldn’t have flown cross country to meet with Adelson and other potential donors – and Christie wouldn’t have apologized for calling the occupied territories “occupied territories” immediately after begging for campaign dollars from a very rich pro-Israel donor. The question is, should this kind of influence-purchasing be unlimited? With billionaires worth more than small countries, it isn’t just a rhetorical question.

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