You often hear people who support campaign finance laws say that the First Amendment isn’t about money, “just speech.” These folks despise the Citizens United decision that forbade, under the First Amendment, regulation of groups of people (“corporations,” profit or non-profit) pooling money to advertise and promote ideas and arguments and slogans and such.
Though many are First Amendment extremists on other matters, desiring no government interference of protests or movies or the Internet, when it comes to politics they fear “Big Money.” So they want to censor speech that some groups would push near elections.
It turns out, of course, that the effects of the Citizens United decision have been mostly beneficial, as Tim Cavanaugh points out in Reason. As a result of that infamous decision, local political races have been “shaken up”; the decision “guaranteed ‘big laughs’” in many humorous political commercials that were all-too-rare before; interest groups have been freed of the old yoke of the major parties; the GOP presidential nomination process has been made far more competitive; and even President Obama, the Citizens United critic-in-chief, has raised millions under the auspices of the organizations the decision allowed to operate — so he apparently likes it, too.
The blessings of “more speech” are pretty obvious — if one looks for them. But for those with a prohibitionist mindset, who fear a wide open public discussion, they’ll no doubt hate actual free speech. As protected by the Citizens United decision.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.