The case involved the Federal Elections Commission blocking ads for a movie opposing Hillary Clinton. The movie died as a result.
I can't believe anyone, left or right, would support what the FEC did. That is censorship, plain and simple. Front Page has a good interview with Ilya Shapiro on how this ruling is a victory for free speech:The New York Times despairs this morning that the decision is a blow for democracy that paves the way for corporations to use their vast treasuries to overwhelm elections. Is there any merit to the objection that the courts ruling will distort democracy by empowering corporations while diminishing the voice of regular citizens?
Shapiro: I think the concern about corporations is misplaced. Most corporations are not Exxon. They are smaller companies or non-profits. With the disclosure rules that are in place, voters will still be able to judge which candidate is in the pocket of some corporation, whether its the ACLU or the Sierra Club, or the Cato Institute for that matter. We still have laws in place going back to 1907 that prevent direct contributions to candidates.
To the extent that there has been a diminution in the publics faith in the democratic process, the government is probably more to blame than the corporations. Earmarks, special tax breaks, the dispersal of government goodies and baddies these types of actions harm democracy much more. McCain Feingold was never about regular citizens. It was a creature of the Beltway. There was no great call from the hinterland to get money out of politics.
I dont think democracy will be diminished as a result of the ruling. What we could see is more ads like the Swift Boats ads during the 2004 presidential campaign or the Hillary movie. But the way the law stood, some government bureaucrat could have simply banned books that were critical of a political candidate in an election year. That would have been far worse.FP: In part, there is a partisan argument here. Democrats complain that if you make it easier for corporations t o spend money in political campaigns, you empower Republicans, since the Left considers corporations and Republicans natural allies.
Shapiro: I think that argument is laughable. Its not at all clear which party would benefit from this ruling. Corporations are highly strategic about what they do with their money. Its because they want political influence that they donate money to both parties. Goldman Sachs gave more money to Barack Obama than to any other candidate in the last election cycle. They were the number-one donor to his campaign. You could go down the list of Fortune 500 companies and find similar contributions. So when Obama rails that this ruling will help Wall Street, its a little rich. He set the record for donors from big companies. FP: Another common claim among critics of the ruling is that corporations dont deserve the same First Amendment rights as individuals.
Shapiro: No one is saying that corporations are human beings. But corporations are groups of private individuals who have legal rights. Take Front Page magazine. Its not an individual. But the government cant raid your office and just seize your computer. That would be a violation of the Fourth Amendment. Similarly, corporations have First Amendment rights. Think of it this way: George Soros can spend as much as he wants in an election, but if you and a hundred other people get together to spend your money, suddenly, that cant work. Individuals dont lose their rights just because they come together to magnify the effects of their donations. http://frontpagemag.com/2010/01/22/a-vic....