WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court loosened political advertising restrictions aimed at corporate- and union-funded television ads Monday, weakening a key provision of a landmark campaign finance law.
The court’s 5-4 ruling could become a significant factor in the upcoming presidential primaries, giving interest groups a louder and more influential voice in the closing days before those contests as well as the general election.
The decision upheld an appeals court ruling that an anti-abortion group should have been allowed to air ads during the final two months before the 2004 elections. The law unreasonably limits speech and violates the group’s First Amendment rights, the court said.
”Discussion of issues cannot be suppressed simply because the issues may also be pertinent in an election,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for the majority. ”Where the First Amendment is implicated, the tie goes to the speaker, not the censor.”
The New York Times
With this Supreme Court decision, what was already going to be a contentious election has now been ratcheted up a notch. I am dreading the level that some will be willing to stoop to in the name of “fair and balanced” information. This decision has opened the door for distortion and misrepresentation of our political process. The Court had the opportunity to rein in the fringe that has turned our political process into a cantankerous and character assassination tour de force. Rather than strengthening our political reform process they have in effect continued to place politics over the people and allowed political money to overrule not only good law, but good judgment. At a time when we need to reform our political process, these political hacks have chosen to keep the status quo.
The McCain-Feingold bill was not perfect law, but it was atleast the beginning in the process to restrict the effects that money has turned our elections into. Unfortunately, as we try to control the tap of runaway campaigns and special interest money, there are those who still want to have the best government that money can buy. It appears that we can no longer count on the politicians or the judges to shut off this spigot; it has to come from you and I, the people. We should realize that if we continue to let the special interest groups, corporations, and unions have unlimited access to our elected officials through contributions and by intimidation ads, we will continue to get the politics of division and fear.
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who has been critical of McCain’s stance, promptly hailed the court’s decision.
”McCain-Feingold was a poorly-crafted bill,” Romney said in a statement. ”Today’s decision restores, in part, to the American people a right critical to their freedom of political participation and expression.”
The New York Times
What has been masqueraded as free speech is no such animal; it is influence peddling and corruption of our political process. I fail to see the harm in limiting the amount of contributions any single person, corporation, or union can give. If our goal is to give equal representation to all of our citizens then this is the place to start. Is there anyone among us who truly believes that these entities give away all this money and they receive nothing for it?
There were four justices who were willing to stand up and pull the curtain open to see what this really is about. They recognized that this is not about free speech, but an outright attempt to influence elections by those with the money to do so with false and misleading ads. These ads don’t help the political discourse and they allow the politicians to rise over the fray and claim ignorance to the misrepresentation that they spew.
‘Thus, what is called a ‘ban’ on speech is a limit on the financing of electioneering broadcasts by entities … that insist on acting as conduits from the campaign war chests of business corporations,” Souter said.
Justices Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and John Paul Stevens joined Souter’s dissent.
The New York Times
These guys are like roaches, you close one loop hole and they run in through another. Until we begin to put limits on political contributions we will continue to have politicians that ignore our desires and wishes and vote for the special interest. They go where the money is and the money is with special interest lobbies. We need to level the playing field; it’s like anything else you take away the money and the rats run back into their holes. We have to begin to demand an end to this endless money pit and political influence peddling. It is happening on both sides and everyday there is a new indictment of some politician who received campaign contributions and denies any quid pro quo. Yes, these people give hundreds of thousands of dollars just to make the acquaintance of these guys. I know politicians have big egos, but to think that someone is going to give me money just to know me is the height of arrogance or the bottom of foolishness. It is past due time for real campaign reform. It isn’t going to get any better.
The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie — deliberate, contrived and dishonest — but the myth — persistent, persuasive and unrealistic – John F. Kennedy