Supreme Court Decision

It is only natural that, with a conservative Supreme Court, there will be decisions I will disagree with.  Last week the court released one such decision and fundamentally changed the landscape on which campaigns are staged.  By throwing open the flood gates and allowing special interests to spend unlimited money to influence elections they have shifted electoral power.  There is now no real distinction between corporate and human dollars in elections and that means that ‘ordinary’ voters like you and me have had our electoral influence severely diminished.   

I understand the opposition to campaign finance reform – why should the government be allowed to restrict who can air their opinions and spend money to help get the change they want?  However, to make this argument is to assume that corporations are no different from individuals and current tax laws in this country (and common sense) suggest that there is a difference.  While I acknowledge that all entities have the right to free speech, allowing organizations to spend unlimited money to directly try to influence an election is to give them an unfair ability to influence decision-making and laws.   In politics money equals access and access equals power and it is naive to believe that politicians will, on the whole, be able to resist the seduction of cash.  This becomes especially scary when you consider that, in many parts of the country, judges are elected officials.  The Judicial Branch, which should protect the rights of the minority, will be bankrolled by the majority and nothing less than judicial impartiality is at stake.

Finally, while the constitution does guarantee a right to free speech, there are limits to that freedom.  You can’t shout fire in a crowded movie theatre.  You can’t slander someone.  You can’t threaten.  These limitations were created because of abuses to these freedoms and an understanding that these abuses fundamentally harm the greater good.  There is a precedent for restricting speech and, even if you believe institutions should have the exact same rights as individuals, I would argue that opening the door to such a discrepancy will have a negative effect on the public good and thus should not be allowed.

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Posted on January 26, 2010, in Uncategorized and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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