Supreme Court Again Rules Money Equals Speech

The Supreme Court ruled again that the rich have more free speech rights than you or me  when they ruled that Arizona’s campaign finance laws are unconstitutional. The Wall Street Journal explains:

The Arizona measure was enacted by voter initiative after corruption scandals rocked the statehouse. The 1998 Citizens Clean Elections Act created a voluntary public-finance system in which candidates who forgo the right to solicit unlimited private donations receive a grant upon raising a set number of $5 contributions, from 220 for a legislative race to 4,410 for a gubernatorial candidates.

In addition, when a  publicly-funded candidate faces off with a candidate who has been able to raise  large sums of money from donors or their own personal wealth, the publicly-funded  candidate receives matching funds so they can keep up with their high-spending opponent. ” But the law’s challengers—five conservative politicians and two political action committees—said the law stifled free speech. They argued that, when they raised and spent money to promote their messages, their speech was punished because it triggered government subsidies to their rivals.”

That last part of the law was what the conservative majority struck down in a 5-4 ruling, saying that giving a candidate matching funds somehow restricts the “speech” of their well-financed rival. Logically, how does this work? I have no idea. Apparently, if someone is allowed to “speak” just as much as you are… your right to free speech is being infringed… Of course even getting to that logically dubious conclusion first requires you to accept the premise that huge campaign contributions are directly equivalent to the free speech mentioned in the first amendment.

I find it very hard to believe that the writers/ratifiers of the 1st amendment intended money to equal free speech. The court’s conservative originalists (Scalia, Thomas, who believe that Constitution was written in stone the moment the founders laid pen to paper) sided with the majority on this one. It seems very hypocritical for them to on the one hand say that the original intent of the writers of the Constitution is all we consider when determining something’s constitutionality and then on the other hand to read a meaning into the free speech clause of the first amendment that its writers never intended.

Well, now you know that gobs of corporate money are protected as free speech and it is unconstitutional for you to try to respond to those gobs of corporate money with anything except more gobs of corporate money. Obviously, no one has as much right to free speech as a billion dollar corporation.

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  1. this is one of those rulings by the conservative court that will eventually be reversed because it is based on bad reasoning as well as bad law. it is easy to see how money can be equated with influence or access, but how it can be equated with speech is beyond me (unless of course you completely distort the english language, and dispense with rational thought). i wonder do these conservative justices really think that it was the intent of the founding fathers that the rich and powerful should have more (not just more but considerably more) right to influence government policy than the rest of us? these clowns have the nerve to criticize the reasoning behind the right to privacy that legitimizes the right to an abortion.

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