Advocates of campaign finance regulation, what George Will calls “speech rationing,” say letting corporations — including non-profit corporations — spend unlimited money on political speech corrupts democracy.
Actually, muzzling speech is what corrupts democracy and the point of it: i.e., to protect our freedoms, including freedom of speech.
Protecting these freedoms is a vital political good, even if some speech is deplorable.
The recent Supreme Court decision, Citizens United v. FEC, dramatically strikes down unconstitutional limits on electioneering by businesses and non-profits. But it leaves intact unconstitutional limits on their direct contributions to campaigns.
It also doesn’t touch requirements forcing campaign donors to disclose personal information. In his partial dissent, Justice Clarence Thomas pointed to how California donors giving more than $100 must reveal their names and addresses, info then publicized on the Internet. Supporters of a recent controversial ballot proposition were subjected to intimidation and property damage as a result.
The disclosure laws have spawned what Justice Thomas calls “a cottage industry that uses forcibly disclosed donor information to pre-empt citizens’ exercise of their First Amendment rights.”
Thomas is right. And campaign finance regulation should be tossed out root and branch.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.