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Saturday, January 23, 2010

Majority Thinks Campaign Donations Is A Form Of 'Free Speech'


Americans' broad views about corporate spending in elections generally accord with the Supreme Court's decision Thursday that abolished some decades-old restrictions on corporate political activity. Fifty-seven percent of Americans consider campaign donations to be a protected form of free speech, and 55% say corporate and union donations should be treated the same way under the law as donations from individuals are..........

So, Americans agree with the Supreme Court on the issue of campaign donations being a form of free speech.

BUT.... how important is free speech to that majority?

Not as important as declaring it is free speech but that said free speech should be limited.

At the same time, the majority think it is more important to limit campaign donations than to protect this free-speech right.

Let me make this simple for those that would contradict themselves in this way.

First Amendment to the Constitution:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Is there anything not clear about the portion I put in bold?

If campaign contributions are a form of free speech as the Supreme Court just decided and as the majority of Americans think it is..... then the statement from Barack Obama, stating............

With its ruling today, the Supreme Court has given a green light to a new stampede of special interest money in our politics. It is a major victory for big oil, Wall Street banks, health insurance companies and the other powerful interests that marshal their power every day in Washington to drown out the voices of everyday Americans. This ruling gives the special interests and their lobbyists even more power in Washington--while undermining the influence of average Americans who make small contributions to support their preferred candidates. That's why I am instructing my Administration to get to work immediately with Congress on this issue. We are going to talk with bipartisan Congressional leaders to develop a forceful response to this decision. The public interest requires nothing less.

Is telling people, straight up and he will be trying to get Congress to go directly against the First Amendment.

People can argue all day long as to whether campaign contributions are or are not a form of free speech, but according to the majority (55 percent) of Americans as well as the Supreme Court.... it is.

In the meantime, experts inject a little dose of reality into the discussion, via The Politico:

But the reality is likely to be something more modest, mainly a shifting of cash that’s already in the system away from so-called 527 groups.

July 29, 2009, the ACLU issued an amiscus in the Citizens United vs FEC case just decided by the Supreme Court, PDF here, summary here.

July 29, 2009

Section 203 of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 prohibits unions and corporations (both for-profit and non-profit) from engaging in “electioneering communications.” The legislative definition of an “electioneering communication” was upheld by the Supreme Court in 2003 and then substantially narrowed by the Supreme Court in 2007. In scheduling this case for reargument, the Court specifically requested briefs on whether section 203 should now be struck down as facially unconstitutional. The ACLU has consistently taken the position that section 203 is facially unconstitutional under the First Amendment because it permits the suppression of core political speech, and our amicus brief takes that position again.

It seems the Supreme Court, in a 5 to 4 decision, agreed.

James Joyner from Outside The Beltway, whom I respect yet often disagree with on many issues, makes the perfect statement here.

Indeed. The ruling will no doubt lead to more speech that I find annoying. But that’s precisely the kind of speech that most needs protection.

Note To James- It is far less annoying when you just mute the television in between your shows and ignore all the ads.

Oh and for the record.... back to Gallup, this little tidbit.

The free-speech question elicits uncommon agreement across party lines. More than 6 in 10 Republicans and Democrats believe campaign donations are a protected form of free speech, but fewer than half of independents (48%) agree.

Democrats and Republicans, by a majority, agree that campaign donations are considered free speech.... the difference is one group does not believe that particular free speech should be limited, while the other group believes it should be.