Editorial: Voters don’t need protection from free speech

Democrats never let the inconvenient facts get in the way of their blindly held firm belief that money is the root of all evil and the ultimate bane of democracy.

You know, beliefs like the one that the 2010 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission — that found a federal law prohibiting people from spending their own money to make their political opinions and desires known could not pass constitutional muster — was wrong, wrong, wrong.

The 5-4 Citizens United ruling overturned a portion of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law under which the FEC barred the airing of a movie produced by Citizens United that was critical of Hillary Clinton during the 2008 Democratic primary.

Democrats have been fighting against the ruling ever since, claiming it lets the rich and powerful and deep-pocketed corporations buy elections. They’ve even floated the idea of amending that portion of the Bill of Rights prohibiting Congress from abridging freedom of speech.

Of course, Nevada’s Democratic delegation to Congress has been in the thick of it. Sens. Catherine Cortez Masto and Jacky Rosen have signed on as sponsors of the proposed amendment, which would allow Congress and the states to “distinguish between natural persons and corporations or other artificial entities created by law, including by prohibiting such entities from spending money to influence elections.”

Cortez Masto proclaimed, “A constitutional amendment putting the democratic process back in the hands of voters will help ensure that our government represents the will of Americans, not just the wealthy few.”

Rosen chimed in, “Our elections should be decided by the voters — but because of Citizens United, billionaires and corporate interests can spend as much money as they want to elect politicians to do their bidding.”

Pay no attention to the fact President Donald Trump was outspent two-to-one by the aforementioned Hillary Clinton.

Over on the House side Nevada Democratic Reps. Dina Titus, Susie Lee and Steven Horsford have co-sponsored the 600-page H.R. 1, dubiously dubbed “For the People Act,” which, along with other things, would require increased disclosure of donors and online advertisers.

All in the name of muting the power of money’s influence over elections.

Pay no attention to the facts just presented by the outcome of the Democratic presidential nominating process.

According to news accounts, former New York mayor and billionaire Mike Bloomberg recently dropped out of that competition after spending somewhere between $500 million and $700 million of his estimated $60 billion net worth. That netted him a grand total of 61 delegates out of the nearly 4,000 delegates awarded thus far.

Then there is the case of Tom Steyer, who is said to be worth a paltry $1.6 billion but spent more than $250 million of his own money on his failing presidential campaign through the end of January. He netted no delegates whatsoever.

Both of the these candidates were allowed the freedom of speech to disseminate their messages and arguments loudly and frequently. But as Justice Anthony Kennedy said in his majority opinion in Citizens United, “The First Amendment confirms the freedom to think for ourselves.”

The poor pliable voters don’t need to be protected from political speech. They can think for themselves — as the facts have again borne out.

A version of this editorial appeared this week in some of the Battle Born Media newspapers — The Ely Times, the Mesquite Local News, the Mineral County Independent-News, the Eureka Sentinel,  Sparks Tribune and the Lincoln County Record.

Branco cartoon

9 comments on “Editorial: Voters don’t need protection from free speech

  1. Anonymous says:

    Voters don’t need protection from freedom of speech but they do need protection from the fascist in office.

    “President Donald Trump’s campaign, in a letter on Wednesday, told stations in five battleground states to stop showing the ad from Priorities USA, a political action committee that supports Democratic candidate Joe Biden.

    Failure to remove the ad “could put your station’s license in jeopardy” before the Federal Communications Commission, the campaign said in the letter. “Your station has an obligation to cease and desist from airing it immediately to comply with FCC licensing requirements.”

    Any chance a column about this might happen?


  2. Why? You just wrote it.

  3. Fox News: Titled “Exponential Threat,” the ad plays a series of Trump’s quotes against the backdrop of a chart showing the increasing number of coronavirus cases in the United States. It splices together two particular quotes to make it seem as though President Trump said: “The coronavirus. This is their new hoax.”

    Trump at February rally: “Now, the Democrats are politicizing the coronavirus,” Trump told the crowd. “Coronavirus, they’re politicizing it. We did one of the great jobs. You see, ‘How’s President Trump doing?’ They go, ‘oh not good, not good.’ They have no clue. They can’t even count their votes in Iowa — not they can’t, they can’t count their votes.

    “One of my people came up to me and said, ‘Mr. President, they tried to beat you on Russia, Russia, Russia, that didn’t work out too well. They couldn’t do it. They tried the impeachment hoax,’ that was on a perfect conversation, ‘they tried anything, they tried it over and over and they’ve been doing it since you got in. It’s all turning, they lost, it’s all turning — think of it, think of it, and this is their new hoax.'”


    Here is the ad: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bkMwvmJLnc0

    Here is Poynter’s timeline showing Trump did make a number of false claims: https://www.poynter.org/fact-checking/2020/we-have-it-totally-under-control-a-timeline-of-president-donald-trumps-response-to-the-coronavirus-pandemic/

    But he did not call the virus a hoax. Of course, it is obvious from the clip that the mention of the virus and the declaration of a hoax are from two different events.

    Here is Bloomberg on the FCC threat: The FCC doesn’t appear to have grounds to act against the stations for airing contentious ads, said Jack Goodman, a Washington broadcast attorney, said in an interview. The ad “is core political speech” protected by First Amendment guarantees of free speech, Goodman said.

    “This is the sort of letter that stations get in political years, day in and day out,” Goodman said. “It’s intended to intimidate.”

    A license revocation would not be likely under any scenario, said Andrew Jay Schwartzman, senior counselor at the Benton Institute for Broadband & Society. Eventually a license renewal could be challenged before the FCC, but “such a petition would get nowhere.”


    Bluster, which is what Trump does.

  4. Anonymous says:

    So then you wrote a column lambasting democrats who seek, through constitutionally provided for processes, to put the issu of money in politics in front of voters but defend here a president that through unconstitutional means, seeks to threaten the free press (where’s the government authority for granting or denying licenses anyway) into saying only nice things about him.

    And the justification is that Trump blusters?

    “I fear for our beloved republic”

  5. So do I, but for different reasons.

  6. Anonymous says:

    And I’ve really tried to get someone on the right to explain to me with some specificity exactly what the “hoax” was that Trump was referring to.

    And particularly in light of the corona virus’ spread in the world, and the deaths, and the deaths likely to come, along with the manner in which the world has now realized this plague ought to be dealt with which is by closing down.

  7. Anonymous says:

    And Thomas I can only imagine the sort of column that would have been written had a democratic president, and a democratic senate been in place when this…and I can’t even put a dollar figure on it because of its enormity and vagueness but let’s just call it a 5 TRILLION dollar stimulus for our purposes.

    Socialism communism etc etc etc.

    Here’s your chance to to be true to your principles again and lay into those socialists on the right for what they’ve done along with the biggest socialist sitting in the White House.

    I do look forward to reading that….if you have the time.

  8. Anonymous says:

    I don’t blame you.

    I’d imagine even for people on the right those actions by conservatives and republicans can’t be easy to swallow.

    Not enough to vote against them of course, or even call them out apparently, but not easy nevertheless.

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