The War on Political Free Speech

The First Amendment starts out, “Congress shall make no law. . .” Whatever that may mean, progressives now want to pass some “Constitutional” amendments to get around that inconvenient impediment. As I tried to illustrate yesterday, the politically legalistic assault on your freedom is of long-standing, continuing and, unfortunately, mostly effective. It just never ends and it’s not accidental.

But then, it seems as though most Americans don’t really understand the issue. Recently from Rasmussen:

58% Say U.S. Needs New Campaign Finance Laws

Most Americans, regardless of political affiliation, think the country needs more campaign finance laws but a plurality still opposes public financing of presidential elections. They’re evenly divided over whether incumbents should be banned from receiving campaign contributions of any kind. Read More.

And let us not forget John McCain’s contribution to the campaign finance cleanup of yesteryear: Free Speech Reformed.

Unlike the author of the following article, I doubt that “American democracy seems as robust as ever.”

From today’s Wall Street Journal:

JANUARY 22, 2012, 6:16 P.M. ET
The War on Political Free Speech
by Bradley A. Smith

Two years after the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling, the campaign to silence opponents is becoming more censorious.

Two years ago the Supreme Court upheld the right of an incorporated nonprofit organization to distribute, air and advertise a turgid documentary about Hillary Clinton called, appropriately enough, “Hillary: The Movie.” From this seemingly innocuous and obvious First Amendment decision has sprung a campaign of disinformation and alarmism rarely seen in American politics.

From the start, reaction to Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission has bordered on the hysterical. Rep. Alan Grayson (D., Fla.) called it the “worst decision since Dred Scott”—the 1857 decision holding that slaves could never become citizens. In his State of the Union message, within days of the ruling, President Obama lectured Supreme Court justices in attendance that they had “reversed a century of law” to allow “foreign companies to spend without limit in our elections.” Neither statement was true.


Two years after Citizens United, American democracy seems as robust as ever. This may be what its critics fear most—a vibrant debate that they cannot control and fear they will lose.

The U.S. government argued in Citizens United that it had the right to ban the publication of books, pamphlets and movies that advocated the election or defeat of a candidate if they were produced or distributed by unions or corporations, such as Random House, Barnes & Noble and DreamWorks. That position is the one that deserves scorn. Fortunately, no new amendment was needed to defeat it—only the First Amendment and a Supreme Court willing to uphold it.

Mr. Smith, who served as commissioner of the Federal Election Commission from 2000 to 2005, is chairman of the Center for Competitive Politics and professor of law at Capital University.

“. . . a campaign of disinformation and alarmism rarely seen in American politics”? Sorry, Bradley. Today, campaigns of “disinformation and alarmism” are S.O.P. Come to think of it, that’s always been a part of politics just about everywhere. We certainly haven’t been immune.


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