Hit & Run

Free Speech, RIP

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Julian Sanchez wrote a witty piece yesterday about the Supreme Court's crap ruling on the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (whose very name signals its intention as an incumbent-protection measure).

I've got little to add to Julian's piece but outrage. So does perpetually pissed-off Justice Antonin Scalia, who called the court's ruling "a say day for free speech."

The ruling is a tribute to the genius who first coined the term "campaign-finance reform" to describe what, by any impartial observer's measure, are clearly infringements on the First Amendment. For god's sake, how the hell can you get away with limiting political speech of any sort, especially right before an election? That there's a "media exemption" only makes it more grotesque--one powerful faction in society (elected officials) throwing a bone to another (the press).

What's worse is the open cynicism encoded in the Court's majority opinion, which states in part, "We are under no illusion that BCRA will be the last congressional statement on the matter. Money, like water, will always find an outlet."

If that is indeed true, then the least Congress and the Court owe us is as few restrictions of speech--"few" as in zero--as possible, so that people can get into the mix as easily as possible. Here's a good piece on the ruling in Investor's Business Daily. Money quote:

"It makes no sense to me at all," said Stephen Presser, professor of constitutional law at Northwestern University. "The First Amendment says Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech, and if prohibiting the kind of commentary they're suggesting 60 days before an election, in lots of different media, isn't abridging the freedom, I don't know what is."

Check out here for a collection of older pieces from Reason about the folly that is campaign-finance reform. And go here for an essential interview with Federal Election Commission maverick Bradley Smith (a major source for the IBD story mentioned above.