Thursday, April 03, 2014

First Comes First

Huzzah to the Supreme Court for its decision in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission.  Rather than allowing the government to regulate political speech, the five-person majority, in an opinion written by Chief Justice Roberts, got rid of overall limits the FEC puts on contributions.

Justice Breyer, in his dissent, wrote "Taken together with Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, today's decision eviscerates our nation's campaign finance laws" as if that's a bad thing.  As always, he's worried about "democratic legitimacy" (rather than freedom of speech, which I would think is at issue), and as always, that means he's willing to fight for it by doing whatever Democrats prefer. Not that he's consciously trying to help any party, no more than Roberts is--he just believes democratic legitimacy works out to mean you support what a modern liberal believes is good for society, whether you're with the majority or against, such as in cases dealing with abortion limits or the Establishment Clause or affirmative action.

Then there are the politicians, like John McCain, who are disappointed in the decision. After all, when you hold office, and have the huge advantage of incumbency, who wants to make it easier for others to criticize you when you're running for reelection?

Finally, there are the newspapers, with billions of dollars of freedom of speech on their side every day. They tend to be owned by rich people and run by corporations, so it only stands to reason that quite a few of them feel they deserve a near-monopoly on freedom of speech.

The story was reported everywhere, of course, but the first place I saw it was USA Today.  And how did they characterize the decision in their first sentence?

The Supreme Court took another step Wednesday toward giving wealthy donors more freedom to influence federal elections.

Now that's reporting.


Blogger ColumbusGuy said...

What's wrong with the statement? Perfectly true. Or so USAT would say.

So who do you find more contemptible, McCain or Breyer? Newspapers somehow don't bother me in the context of that question, perhaps because they're a lost cause.

2:51 AM, April 03, 2014  
Blogger LAGuy said...

I'm generally most troubled by judges in this arena. Politicians do what's good for themselves, but it's the job of judges to support the First Amendment. These cases shouldn't be nail-biters (that'll be overturned if President Obama gets to replace a "conservative" Justice), they should be unanimous. This is about regulating political speech! As one of the Justices once wrote" "[This case involves] the communication and advocacy of political ideas and lawful means of achieving political ends. [...T]his speech and association for political purposes is the kind of activity to which the First Amendment ordinarily offers its strongest protection.” What was this Justice's name again? Oh yes, Breyer. Of course, in that case he was referring to speech that aids terrorists, which is a completely different thing.

3:38 AM, April 03, 2014  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well "liberals" (whatever that means) should be happy- this works better as a campaign issue

4:01 AM, April 03, 2014  
Anonymous Denver Guy said...

The reason the left yearns for campaign contribution control is because they truthfully believe the only reason they ever lose elections is when the populous has been hoodwinked through a slick ad campaign. They are the most irritatingly self-righteous people on earth in this way.

The right understands that some of their messages are not intuitively popular, and that the only way they win elections is through intellectual argument, or more often, by hard lessons learned. Folks on the right argued that concentrated high rise public housing units were a bad idea before places like Cabrini Green in Chicago were built. But it sounded like such a nice idea - with visions of the Jetsons in folks heads, so who would in the general public would vote against it. Only with experience did we learn that we had built 40 story ghettos.

In fact, it is the left that probably benefits more from unrestricted advertising on behalf of candidates. The pretty picture of everybody having limitless health care options through government run insurance exchanges at an affordable price is an easy sell, until hard experience sets in.

8:01 AM, April 03, 2014  

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