Letter - Campaign finance law needed for democracy

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If money is speech, what’s the upshot? U.S. a democracy?

The Supreme Court in both the Citizens United and McCutcheon decisions used convoluted, tortured and harmful free-speech arguments to turn over the election process to moneyed interests. In Citizens United it allowed corporations and unions to spend unlimited amounts for “independent expenditures.”

In McCutcheon it allowed the very wealthy to donate about 30 times as much money in elections as before.

The majority in the 5-4 Citizens United decisions inferred at one point there is no such thing as too much speech.

Here’s why this is a false argument: Money as speech (first used in Buckley vs. Valeo) is the basis of the five Justices’ whole argument in Citizens United and McCutcheon. If money is speech and the floodgates are open in elections, the Supreme Court has enshrined and institutionalized the principle that “the best Congress money can buy” is a valid and protected principle of law.

Money talks, “we the people” walk.

The high court also does not think there will be any corruption or appearance of corruption resulting from new billions pouring into the election process. What do you think?

There are many limitations to the First Amendment right to speech. The limitations are all based on the effects of the speech. Examples of limitations on speech: slander and libel, incitement to violence; obscenity; child pornography; “fighting words:” threats; and other limitations.

The effects test is very common sense. Take slander and libel. There is an obvious effect, the destruction of your good name and reputation if someone utters malicious and untrue things about you.

The effects of “money is speech” are obvious, as noted above.

The dissenting justices noted in Citizens United and McCutcheon that the public may simply give up participating in the political process because the playing field is so tilted toward moneyed individuals and special interests.

We need campaign finance laws that protect democracy. Please sign I-1329 to put Washington state on record with 16 other states and eight more with ballot measures this year requesting a constitutional amendment to overturn recent Supreme Court decisions.

Norm Osterman

Walla Walla

Comments

dogman12 5 months, 4 weeks ago

The master's tools don't disassemble the master's house.

We're screwed, Norm. Prepare yourself to ride out storms of devolution, and try not to get crushed by a falling chunk of empire.

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PearlY 5 months, 3 weeks ago

We don't ban all people from saying anything about other people because some of what they say might be libelous or slanderous. We don't make libel and slander crimes, either. Instead, we allow the slandered and libeled to recover civil damages if they can prove in a court of law, after the fact, that the speech was libelous or slanderous and that they were damaged.

We have lots of rich people in this country, some Democrats and some Republicans; if they want to contribute to getting their ideas out there to the public, all the better. But we also have lots of people in this country who control the flow of ideas without being extraordinarily wealthy or even if wealthy, without having to use any of their own money - say - celebrities, union leaders, newspaper editorialists, and politicians who control government agencies.

There's probably nobody in the country who could afford to pay the kind of money that the Obama Administration has thrown at the effort to sucker the population into believing Obamacare is a good deal. That's millions, if not billions, of taxpayer dollars dedicated to a purely partisan effort. Sure, it would be nice for his Administration if all those who would like to offer a contrary view could be silenced, but that's exactly the kind of speech the writers of the First Amendment WANTED the citizenry to have.

He still needs one more Supreme Court justice to do his bidding, though. Then he'll be able to silence anybody who could challenge his propaganda.

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