May 17, 2012

SandBoxBlogs: Aspen Times "Their freedom is your freedom"

Wonderful op-ed column out of Maurice Emmer today.  Up on the Aspen Times.

"Do you understand federal election finance law? If so, you are ahead of most Americans. You are ahead of most news readers and commentators, and you are way ahead of President Obama. (See his distortion of the Citizens United decision in his January 2010 State of the Union address.)

Why is this relevant almost 30 months later? Because this year's important elections will be enlivened by outraged and mostly misinformed criticisms of big-money spending on political speech. However one feels about it, one ought to be informed about what the rules really are and why before deciding what should or shouldn't — or indeed can and cannot — be done about such spending.

The U.S. Supreme Court has decided cases dealing with campaign finance for more than 45 years, since Congress started passing restrictions on contributions and spending in the 1970s. The problem with the restrictions was that spreading a political message requires money, so limits on contributions and spending are limits on political speech. Courts analogize the level of political spending to the size of a person's megaphone (or loudspeaker). The First Amendment proclaims that “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech.” This prohibits limits on the size of the megaphone. A law that limits contributions or spending does limit the size of the megaphone, abridging the freedom of speech.

Given the fundamental importance of free political speech, the Supreme Court has struck down many campaign finance and spending-law restrictions that it found abridged the freedom of political speech....."
(Read more?  You should.  Click title)

"Unapologetic pursuit and tracking of patterns within the news others make since 2010."

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