Tag Archives: Campaign Finance Reform

Campaign Bill Splits Democrats

According to CQ Politics, the current version of the new campaign finance bill is splitting Democrats in the house, and well it should.

But what is most important to note here is the fatal flaw in campaign finance reform–the fact that it is crafted by politicians pursuing their interests.  That is the value of free speech–it cuts in every direction.  With this bill politicians try to balance the free speech rights of unions vs business, the NRA vs other interest groups, and particular politicians and their desire to please (or displease) other interests.

That is the genius of the constitution as written:  Free speech for everyone, especially in the political sphere.

From Preserving Democracy, page 153 of the new paperback edition:

Thus our system of government was set up as a republic, where we vote, not on issues directly, but for representatives, who would then cast votes for us. Yet representative democracy has its dangers as well. If the representative does not represent the will of the people the system breaks down.

But now we have representatives decided which people they should represent.

Citizens United Case with the FEC

In the continuing debate about just how much speech can be restricted in the name of campaign finance reform, the FEC has just given Citizens United a victory, in this case allowing it a press exemption for some of its media productions.

It seems odd that so many argue that restricting the money, or its sources, which makes dissemination of speech possible is somehow not restricting free speech.

Elgin Husbheck, Jr. commented on the logical problems with campaign finance reform in Preserving Democracy (p. 112 & xxx) of the forthcoming paperback edition:

In this discussion I have focused on religion, but pretty much the same thing has happened in many other areas. For example the Free Speech clause was originally intended to protect political speech. Not only has it been greatly extended to include things like child pornography, but now this has been turned on its head to the point that political speech is about the only speech the government can control and limit. (p. 112)

But rather than abandon this approach as a failure, the push in the late 1990s was to even further expand campaign finance reform laws with a new bill sponsored by Senators McCain and Feingold.  Proving that the failure of planning and control only produces more planning and control, not only did the McCain-Feingold bill impose a whole new layer of controls, it took the unprecedented step of attempting to limit political speech 90 days prior to an election. Even many politicians who voted for the bill believed that such a limit on free speech was clearly unconstitutional, and they expected the Supreme Court to toss out those limits.

In late 2003, however, the court surprised a lot of people and upheld McCain-Feingold, including the limits on political speech 90 days before an election.172 While there was a lot of celebrating among supporters of the bill, it did not last long. (p. 166)

At least at the moment we are backing away from the worst aspects of this “reform” but there are those who are not happy with this new freedom of speech.

Links

Blogs:

Cato@Liberty (deals with the earlier court case and congressional attempts to override, not the current FEC decision)

SCOTUSBLOG

Election Law Blog

Mother Jones (discusses the way unions are exploiting the ruling and congress is looking at making different rules for unions than for corporations.)

Ann Althouse

(Note:  We look for a variety of sources but do not claim to cover all sides of the issue.  We do not necessarily endorse the comments of any particular blogger.)