June 26, 2006

In Rare Move, Court Endorses Freedom of Speech

Hatched by Dafydd

In a surprise ruling, the Supreme Court held that freedom of speech applies even in the state of Vermont -- home to Chairman Howard Dean, Sen. Pat Leahy (100%), Sen. "Jumpin" Jim Jeffords (90%), and Rep. Bernie Sanders (100%):

The Supreme Court ruled today that a Vermont law restricting campaign donations and expenditures was unconstitutional. The court said that the law's limits on how much a candidate could spend violated a landmark 30-year-old ruling equating such spending with free speech and that its limits on donations to a campaign were far too stringent.

This is a double-plus good ruling: not only did six of the justices agree that campaign expenditures were a form of speech (incluing Stephen Breyer, who wrote the controlling -- that is, minimalist -- opinion), but they also held that even the limit on donations in Vermont was ridiculously low:

The Vermont law set the lowest limits in the nation on donations, capping gifts at $200 for state House campaigns over a two-year election cycle; $300 for state Senate and $400 for statewide offices. In his controlling opinion, Justice Stephen Breyer noted that the court had allowed limits on donations in other states but said that the ones put forward by Vermont imposed burdens on the First Amendment that were "disproportionately severe"....

He said that the low limits on how much an individual could donate to a candidate made it especially difficult for challengers, thus giving an undue advantage to incumbents.

(No word on whether Vermont incrumbents Leahy, Jeffords, and Sanders supported the Full Employment for Vermont Legislative Incumbents law.)

The three dissenters were John Paul Stevens, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, and perennial disappointment David Souter, who seem to believe that any limitation is fine, so long as Democrats are the primary beneficiaries:

Justice Stevens said that he disagreed that money spent by a campaign was the equivalent of speech, the underpinning of the 1976 ruling. Justice Souter said that the Court should have deferred to the judgment of the people of Vermont on how to reduce corruption and its appearance.

"The findings made by the Vermont legislature on the pernicious effect of the nonstop pursuit of money are significant," he wrote.

In addition, Justices Scalia and Thomas opined in a separate opinion (there were actually six in toto) that even contributions themselves constitute protected speech, and that the doddering and senile opinion in Buckley v. Valeo, 424 U.S. 1 (1976), should be overturned altogether, throwing out the entire unsound edifice of campaign finance restrictions. Sadly, they have yet to persuade Chief Justice Roberts, Justice Alito, and whichever of the four Marxist Brothers is least insane.

Not much else for me to say, since I never did finish law school (or even start -- or even apply, for that matter). But I stand to salute what has become, alas, an increasingly rare display of common sense on the parts of our robed masters.

(Ross Kaminsky, over at Real Clear Politics blog, has more details and an excellent analysis not to be missed.)

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, June 26, 2006, at the time of 5:55 PM

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The following hissed in response by: KarmiCommunist

The time has come, for another beheading, but this time...from the Western World. Video it, and send it to the Terrorists, to the supporters of Terrorists and Terrorism, and make sure that it shows gentle me plucking out the Democrat Party's eyes from it's most clearly beheaded head!!!!!!!


The above hissed in response by: KarmiCommunist [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 26, 2006 6:19 PM

The following hissed in response by: KarmiCommunist


Save yore breath, and think of the recently plucked eyes. Try another Thread, unless you have ever plucked eyes...so to speak gently.


The above hissed in response by: KarmiCommunist [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 26, 2006 6:27 PM

The following hissed in response by: Big D

The way to get money out of politics is to make money irrelevant to success.

The simple answer is to limit contributions, but give ample free air time to all qualified candidates. Also stage numerous publicly mandated debates.

Doesn't the public own the airwaves? Isn't PBS everywhere? Doesn't the government substantially fund PBS?

There are many ways to limit the influence of the "evil" rich without violating free speech. In fact more "free" (as in no cost) speech is a very good start. Make all candidates answer hard questions, let them all be heard. Give them no place to hide from the issues.

The above hissed in response by: Big D [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 27, 2006 10:48 AM

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