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Wednesday, April 22, 2015

First Amendment Threats: George Will on the Challenges to Free Speech

Well, here's what the sensitive snowflakes of "trigger warnings" are bringing us:
“Today’s attack is different. It is an attack on the theory of free speech. It is an attack on the desirability of free speech . . . What we have today is an attack on the very possibility of free speech. The belief is that the First Amendment is a mistake.”



Regarding Ms. Clinton's challenge to free speech, it's couched in terms of getting "anonymous" money out of politics, as set out here:
The one comment that arguably raised the most eyebrows was Clinton’s reference to political reforms: “We need to fix our dysfunctional political system and get unaccountable money out of it once and for all, even if that takes a constitutional amendment.”
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Clinton didn’t delve into too many details – not surprising given that this was only her second full day as a candidate – but as the campaign unfolds, Andrew Prokop sketched out what a possible constitutional amendment might look like.

The problem, as campaign finance reformers see it, is that for decades the Supreme Court has defined speech too broadly and corruption too narrowly. It has ruled that laws capping how much an individual or group can donate to a particular candidate are acceptable, because they help prevent corruption. However, overall caps on the amount any candidate or corporation spends on elections are unconstitutional, because they muzzle speech without specifically preventing corruption. (The court’s narrow definition of “corruption” has consistently been disputed by some justices in the minority.)

So the Democrats’ proposed constitutional amendment specifically says that both Congress and state governments can limit the “raising and spending of money” meant “to influence elections.” It lists several rationales for doing so – advancing “democratic self-government” and “political equality,” and protecting the “integrity” of the political process. However, it only says that “reasonable limits” are acceptable – so if the amendment is ever enacted, there would undoubtedly be court battles over which restrictions are reasonable or unreasonable.

1 comment:

  1. To see HRC decry "unaccountable money" in US politics is incredible given the current disclosures about the Clinton money dealing. (dare I mention the words "Payola" or Whitewater?)
    Of course, she want limitations on the First Amd. to keep reporters and others from asking her for the truth and would rather limit their abiliy to publish.
    I won't go into the importance of transparency as a key prequisite for free speech suffice to wonder where those emails went?

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