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Supreme Court May Strike Down Campaign Finance Regulation Tomorrow

Posted on January 20 2010 6:27 pm
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The U.S. Supreme Court has scheduled a special sitting tomorrow.  It usually does so only when a very important decision is announced.

The betting is that the Court is poised to announce its decision in the critical Citizens United campaign finance case.  The result could be a major re-affirmation of the First Amendment,  overturning precedents that had allowed the federal and state governments to restrict what, when and how corporations and labor unions can spend in connection with elections. 

If you think that the election of Scott Brown to the Senate will cause a tidal wave in Washington, just imagine what will happen if the Supreme Court removes the yoke of government regulation of political speech.  For starters, we’ll hear the same old tired argument from progressives that money corrupts the political system, although somehow George Soros’ lavish spending on 527 political committees is never included in such denunciations.

Money can corrupt but, as Lord Acton once said, “power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” The left-wing power brokers in Washington who are throwing our money around to buy votes for Obamacare and to pay off their special interest constituents need some healthy competition from the private sector that the progressives are aiming to subordinate to government control.   And yes – that costs money.

The last time I checked corporations and labor unions are in essence made up of people associating in organizations for common purposes, and the First Amendment protects the right of the people to associate — including to raise, contribute and spend money on behalf of their political persuasion.   Lets hope that is the way that the Supreme Court rules tomorrow.

UPDATE:  Victory for the First Amendment!

The Supreme Court has today removed the spending limitations on corporations who wish to spend on federal campaigns, so long as it is done independently of candidate organizations’ control.

“The censorship we now confront is vast in its reach,” Justice Anthony Kennedy said in his majority opinion.

The Court stated that the government may not make distinctions between certain types of speakers (i.e., corporations and labor unions), and may not impose restrictions on those that are “disfavored.”

The Court rejected the so-called ‘corrosive effect’ of money in politics as a sufficient rationale to justify a ban on political speech,  noting that First Amendment protections do not depend on the speaker’s “financial ability to engage in public discussion.”

Restrictions on direct contributions to candidates remain in effect.

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