Home > Free Speech, Rights > The SCOTUS McCutcheon decision was correct

The SCOTUS McCutcheon decision was correct

April 8, 2014

win7_mute (1)Today I finally had some time to actually read the MCCUTCHEON ET AL. v. FEDERAL ELECTION COMMISSION brief. I’ve waiting to actually post anything about the SCOTUS ruling until I’ve actually read it. From a civil liberty perspective SCOTUS got this decision right. That doesn’t mean anyone has to like special interest money in politics. It just means that anyone fighting against that special interest money should do so in a way that respect the liberties of everyone; including those they stand opposed to.

I have always found it odd that anyone that respects freedom of speech, freedom of association, or civil liberties would support a law that prevents people from backing as many candidates as they wish. Life is a not a video game. There isn’t a “free speech meter” that gets used up after showing support for an arbitrary amount of candidates. Trying to limit the amount of candidates a person can contribute to was nothing short of trying to remove money out of politics. This is not allowed. Here is the opening paragraph from the briefing, which basically shows why the McMutcheon ruling is correct:

The right to participate in democracy through political contributions is protected by the First Amendment, but that right is not absolute.Congress may regulate campaign contributions to protect against corruption or the appearance of corruption. See, e.g., Buckley v. Valeo, 424 U. S. 1, 26–27. It may not, however, regulate contributions simply to reduce the amount of money in politics, or to restrict the political participation of some in order to enhance the relative influence of others. See, e.g., Arizona Free Enterprise Club’s Freedom Club PAC v. Bennett, 564 U. S. ___, ___.

There are no corruption concerns that come up with contributing to multiple candidates. People may not like that it happens, but that doesn’t make it wrong. The key part is “or to restrict the political participation of some in order to enhance the relative influence of others”. In other words the rights of each individual are equal; Congress cannot pass a law that removes some free speech rights from one citizen and give it to another. That is basically what limiting the amount of candidates someone can contribute to had done. By reducing the ability of McCutcheon to exercise his free speech as he wished, it actually provided a greater voice for others that were contributing to other candidates. That is a form of progressivism I find most disturbing: rights redistribution.

There are ways to fight against the big money of special interest groups without actually trying to trample the rights of others. But almost all of the ways I can think of require voters that actually care about where money comes from and where it is going. There are many websites and non-mainstream media sources available that actually provide this information to the public. If people truly want to fight against special interest money in politics there is information available to fight against it.

One last point to remember is that special interest groups exist for almost any topic that can be thought of. Restricting the speech of sources that are ‘undesired’ will also restrict the speech of sources that are desired. This point was quite well made by Chief Justice Roberts when he wrote:

Money in politics may at times seem repugnant to some, but so too does much of what the First Amendment vigorously protects. If the First Amendment protects flag burning, funeral protests, and Nazi parades—despite the profound offense such spectacles cause—it surely protects political campaign speech despite popular opposition.

It is time for those pushing to overturn Citizens United (and now McCutcheon) to give up that anti-liberty approach and find ways to fight special interest money without trampling the First Amendment.

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  1. September 9, 2014 at 11:56 am
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