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Gavel and stacks of money.
Since the Citizen’s United decision we have seen a flood of money into our electoral process. With the McCutcheon decision even more money can pour into our elections.

While I'm not a lawyer or an expert in our Constitution, I have read our Constitution and its amendments, and it's unclear whether the same can be said of five of the nine justices on the Supreme Court.

It's understandable that the free speech clause in the U.S. Constitution covers the spoken word, written word and symbolic speech (like burning a flag, words on a jacket or wearing an armband to school). But how can donating money to political campaigns be speech? Anyone can write a letter to the editor supporting a candidate or candidates, anyone can stand on a soapbox on a street corner and make statements supporting multiple candidates. But the vast majority of Americans cannot possibly afford to support one candidate, let alone multiple candidates in an election cycle.

What makes this news decision even worse is the nation's growing income disparity. Mr. Deep Pockets has millions of dollars. He can donate the maximum contribution to every single candidate he wants to, whether or not he lives in that candidate's district. Ms. I. M. Broke lives paycheck to paycheck. She cannot afford to put money in her 401k and taking her kids out for ice cream is a rare treat. She cannot afford to give to one local candidate, let alone multiple local, regional and national candidates.

Follow below the fold for more on money, politics and so-called speech.

There are a lot more people in Ms. Broke’s situation than there are in Mr. Pockets, which is why this is such a bad decision for the American political system. Now those who have money will have a louder voice than those who do not. From a local to a national level this harms our democracy. From school board races to the presidential race, one person with money could decide an election.

We could see a highly qualified candidate lose a local school board race in Wisconsin because a millionaire in Texas supported this candidate’s opponent—whose only qualification may be that he or she joined a group this Texas millionaire created to dictate changes to schools on a national basis. It would not take much to throw several local elections like this with just one large donor, as most local offices are not high dollar fund-raising affairs. Now multiply this across the country and it's clear that one person in Texas could influence local elections nationwide and push an agenda that does not meet the needs or the culture of a community.

The other side of this coin is that we already have a problem with money in our political system through PACs, SuperPACs, soft money, hard money and party money. Ads from outside groups pollute our airwaves during election season, most of them just using a sliver of truth to create an illusion that tears down a candidate without naming a name. In many cases, the organizations that produce these are not required to disclose their donors, so no one can be sure where the money is coming from.

This is not how our democracy should work. The way it is now, given two successive Supreme Court decisions where campaign finance laws have been gutted, the only people who have a voice in our elections are the very wealthy.

In 1910 Teddy Roosevelt said (pdf):

We need to make our political representatives more quickly and sensitively responsive to the people whose servants they are. More direct action by the people in their own affairs under proper safeguards is vitally necessary. The direct primary is a step in this direction, if it is associated with a corrupt-practices act effective to prevent the advantage of the man willing recklessly and unscrupulously to spend money over his more honest competitor. It is particularly important that all moneys received or expended for campaign purposes should be publicly accounted for, not only after election, but before election as well.
The more things change, the more they stay the same. In 1910, money in our political system was a problem. In 2014, unprecedented amounts of money have corrupted our political system to the point that the people of the United States are losing faith in the system. As in 1910 when Teddy Roosevelt proposed a corrupt practices act, in 2014 we need not only a corrupt practices act, we also need to publicly fund political campaigns and no longer allow campaign donations. It is ludicrous to me that people running for office spend two and three times more money to win an election than what that elected office pays.

Money has absolutely corrupted our political system. The only way to fix the damage done by the Roberts court is to change the system and remove the temptation to buy elections. If we can figure out how to pay for two wars over the past 13 years ,we can certainly figure out how to publicly finance our elections.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Sun Apr 13, 2014 at 05:59 PM PDT.

Also republished by Badger State Progressive, Daily Kos, and Changing the Scrip.

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Comment Preferences

  •  If political contributions are speech (9+ / 0-)

    If political contributions are speech, are all other financial transactions also speech?

    If that's the case, then what right does the government have to limit any of my financial transactions?

    Aren't taxes now limitations on my freedom of speech?
    Any kind of commerce law now comes under question, right?

    Someone tell me how this is wrong.
    Please.

  •  The idea of a corporation existed in the time... (16+ / 0-)

    of our founding fathers and if they wanted corporations to have equal rights they would have wrote:

    We the People and Corporations of...

    But they didn't.

    Join the DeRevolution: We are not trying to take the country, we are trying to take the country back. Get the money out of politics with public financed campaigns so 'Of the People, By the People and For the People' rings true again.

    by fToRrEeEsSt on Sun Apr 13, 2014 at 06:07:25 PM PDT

  •  Shrugs... as always, you only have yourselves... (0+ / 0-)

    to blame.

    You win the Presidency, you pick the Supreme Court members.

    Maybe you should vote next time. Only about 30-40% of Americans bother. You shouldn't complain when your lack of participation has a price.

    •  Americans Don't Nominate Candidates (5+ / 0-)

      and mostly they don't fund campaigns.

      There hasn't been a competitive liberal to vote for President since the Beatles were still recording.

      No matter how many would've shown up.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Sun Apr 13, 2014 at 06:10:05 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Who is this "you" at whom you sneer? (9+ / 0-)

      Are you certain that Mark E Anderson didn't vote? Or anyone else on this thread?  How about the people whose votes are forbidden by corrupt state legislatures and politicized State AGs, or the elderly or poor who can't get "proper" mandated voter IDs?  Are they to blame for the Roberts court?  And what about Bush v Gore?  There's a good chance Bush didn't even win the 2000 election, but he gave us some of our worst justices.  Is that phantom "you" responsible for that debacle?

      "It ain't right, Atticus," said Jem. "No, son, it ain't right." --Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

      by SottoVoce on Sun Apr 13, 2014 at 06:55:18 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I always vote you dip****, (6+ / 0-)

      as I assume almost everyone on DKos does. My problem is I can't vote several million times per election, like the Koch Bros. do.

    •  A Fair Criticism Aimed at a Group, Not Individuals (0+ / 0-)

      Democracy demands a greater expenditure of energy to keep the electorate active, mobilized, and informed. It is very easy to slide into tyranny. No country has slid into democracy. Democracy is hard. Tyranny is easy. Which is why we've had pseudo-democracies and much propaganda.

      OFA was aimed at what you criticize. OFA wasn't a complaint. It was a response. It succeeded. Twice. People voted; some standing in line for 12 hours or so.

      Many people voted in 2008 and 2012 with an expectation of change. The record has been mixed. They don't get representation when they vote, and they don't get representation when they don't vote. How is your criticism valid?

      Maybe it's time we recognize no one in power wants to implement anything near democracy. In this regard, we're like the Tea Party, willing to ignore obvious contradictions for the sake of maintaining an ideology. Winning is all that matters, but what is the prize?

  •  Those who make peaceful change impossible... (6+ / 0-)

    make violent change inevitable.  Chief Justice Roberts, the body count will be on your head.

    You will note that the Bill of Rights is now apparently a Bill of Concerns. Charles Pierce, Esquire Magazine Feb 2014

    by spritegeezer on Sun Apr 13, 2014 at 06:08:07 PM PDT

  •  Spot on (9+ / 0-)

    I've always said money isn't speech. It's the volume knob.

    Politics: A strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principles. -- Ambrose Bierce

    by OkieByAccident on Sun Apr 13, 2014 at 06:19:39 PM PDT

  •  Thank you. (11+ / 0-)

    From all of us I M Brokes out here who are being financially stretched as thin as possible.
    Money isn't culture.  Money isn't smarts.  Money isn't kindness.  Money isn't compassion.  And for damn sure, money is NOT speech.  It's money, cold hard cash, and while it's always nice to have some extra at the end of the month, all it does in an election venue is allow the jackass with the most to bray the loudest.  
    Thank you SCOTUS for considering democracy (or is that democrassy) with your ruling.  Once again.
    Oh and BTW, since money=speech, does that mean I can pay my bills by speaking to the creditor?  <----that last was sorta a snark.

    I think, therefore I am........................... Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose....AKA Engine Nighthawk - don't even ask!

    by Lilyvt on Sun Apr 13, 2014 at 06:21:23 PM PDT

  •  If money ≠ speech... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    nextstep

    then why do we have boycotts?

    •  Because boycotts are not money (8+ / 0-)

      If money is speech, and boycotts are speech, then money is boycotts. But this is incorrect. In essence a boycott is the very opposite of speech, it is economic silence.

      Though a boycott is communicative, it is not, itself speech. If customers simply stop buying company X's product, but do not combine that boycott with associated speech, the boycott itself will fail. The company may lose money and may even go out of business, but no one will know why. And thus the boycott fails in its primary function, to force behavioral change through economic leverage.

      And this is also why the SCOTUS' ruling is particularly moronic.

      Money is not speech because simply giving money is not a communicative act. If a candidate finds an envelope full of cash on his doorstep in the morning, he may be glad to have it, but the money, itself means nothing.

      No. Rather, political contributions are specifically a form of quid pro quo: Money spent not as speech, but to buy a certain kind of speech. Speech that is consistent with the ideology and desires of the money giver. Thus money itself is not speech and never has been. But a bribe is a bribe is a bribe. And always will be.

      A bribe by any other name still stinks to high heaven.

      •  "Economic silence" (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Beelzebubs Brass Bs

        So money can't speak but it can be silent?  Interesting.

        I view boycotts differently than you.  To me, a boycott is about sending a message(two messages really): 1) To the company being boycotted, that they will lose money until they change. 2) To the general public, to inform them that this is a bad company you shouldn't do business with.

        •  Your difference is no difference at all (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          SuzieQ4624, dewtx

          I never said money could be silent any more than I said it could be speech.

          The money involved in a boycott is meaningless (and silent) if there is no speech ATTACHED to it. By itself it means nothing and conveys nothing. Until a specific message is attached and that message can be tied to the boycott, the boycott is economically silent.

          People may very well have boycotted Edsels and Zoons, but no one knew because no one claimed to be boycotting them and they failed miserably in the market. Simply failing as a product or company does not mean you have been boycotted. Until a group claims responsibility for the boycott and can show that it has been effective there is no "speech", no communication attached. The mere presence of money or lack thereof has no communicative effect.

          Your points are merely a repetition of my claim: A company must KNOW that their monetary loss is the result of a boycott and not merely market forces responding to a crappy product. And the public must learn of the boycott and be told that it has led to economic harm. BOTH are the result of speech, not money.

          Lots of people have spent TONS of money and not communicated. Many people have spent nothing at all and communicated much. The presence or lack of money is not relevant to communication.

          Money is not speech.

      •  So are you saying that the government can ban (0+ / 0-)

        boycotts of companies?

        •  That's not what is being said at all and, (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          SuzieQ4624, cville townie

          again, you are surely not dense enough to think that it is. Either this discussion is passing over your head or you are deliberately being obtuse and there is a noun for that.

          •  Perhaps you can clarify (0+ / 0-)
            Though a boycott is communicative, it is not, itself speech.
            If it is not speech then why can't it be banned?
            •  wow. you are an immensely inane troll, aren't you (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              SuzieQ4624

              the quick answer is because there are all kinds of things that can't be banned, and it's obvious that a government can't ban someones choice not to buy a certain brand or or patronize a particular merchant.
              The government can require me to have car/health insurance, but it can't tell me who to buy it from (or who NOT to buy it from).

              •  How do you get that idea? (0+ / 0-)

                What in the Constitution do you think prevents the government from making it either a criminal offense or a civil tort to coordinate with others to refuse to buy from a business?

                For example, the government already makes it illegal for individuals selling goods or services to coordinate together to refuse to sell for less than a particular price.  Where do you think that power comes from?

                The US already has laws preventing US citizens or companies from participating in or cooperating with the Arab boycott of Israel.  See http://en.wikipedia.org/....  If the government can constitutionally enforce that law why do you think it can't enforce a similar law regarding a boycott of Chick-a-fil?

                •  The Affordable Chicken Act. (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Beelzebubs Brass Bs, onionjim

                  To counter the Chik-fil-a boycott, the govt. will mandate that we buy lunch there twice a week.

                •  It makes no difference (0+ / 0-)

                  whether you call it "speech" or "silence" or whatever.

                  The issue is corrupting politics. Money, when used in politics as speech, destroys democracy. Do you not get this point?

                  Boycotting a brand of dogfood or something does not subvert the political process in any way.

                  Boycotting the companies owned by the Koch bros. does not subvert democracy. But the Koch bros. giving money to RWNJ candidates all over the country DOES subvert democracy. OK?

                  A true craftsman will meticulously construct the apparatus of his own demise.

                  by onionjim on Mon Apr 14, 2014 at 02:30:00 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  I think you can make a pretty good argument (0+ / 0-)

                    that boycotting companies because of the legal political activities of their owners, directors, or employees does subvert democracy.

                    •  Okay, let's see you do it. (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      onionjim

                      Captain Frogbert's 9:09:44 suggestion is well-taken, but on a Monday morning, I'm in just a scrappy enough mood to enjoy watching someone dig themselves into a hole.

                      •  Sure... here I go (0+ / 0-)

                        We want a robust political debate in this country and we do not want it influenced by people applying economic coercion to encourage or discourage people from involvement in legal political activities.

                        So, for example, we do not want employers penalizing or rewarding employees for their legal political activities based on whether or not the employer agrees with those practices.  The same applies to business purchasing decisions - for example, Wal-Mart should not be able to decide to purchase goods or services from businesses based on whether the politicians who own them, invest in them, or work at them (common for part time political positions in smaller towns) vote for or against what Wal-Mart wants (ie. zoning variances, tax breaks, local minimum wage ordinances).  The same logic obviously applies to cases where the owners, investors, or employees of these businesses are contributing to or working for particular politicians, referendum campaigns, etc.

                        The same logic applies to concerted activities by individuals.  Obviously, you can't prosecute individuals for buying from one hardware store instead of another, but in the case of a concerted boycott based on legal political activities you can sue or prosecute the organizers.  For example, if you have a deep Red town and the local Republicans organize a boycott of all businesses that are owned by or employ Democratic donors or party officials that should be something you can prosecute.

                        This protection is especially important for those with minority political opinions (like opposing gay marriage in Silicon Valley, apparent) because those are the people who are most likely to be intimidated and prevented from speaking and expressing their opinions.

                        •  PS. If your objection is to the idea of the (0+ / 0-)

                          government regulating boycotts by individuals what about a boycott designed to drive black owned businesses and employers of blacks out of a town that wants to stay all white?

                        •  The examples... (0+ / 0-)

                          ...in your second paragraph don't appear to apply to the premise of your 4:24:37 comment. The situations you describe there represent instances of singular entities using their financial power as responses to the politics of others, rather than mass consumer response to such entities in the form of boycotts. See the difference?

                          The extreme and unlikely hypotheticals you provide in your third paragraph and your P.S. (although I don't know what "government regulating boycotts" refers to), I have to say, don't strike me as subversions of democracy as much as what could simply be described as particularly ugly forms of it.

                          It's really only a matter of degrees. Political campaigns conducted by parties and/or interest groups amounting to not much more than "Don't vote for the other guy because he's a blankety-blank so-and-so," though distasteful, don't "subvert democracy;" indeed, they've long been part of the process.

                          The fact that one candidate or the other will lose the election neither deprives him of, nor need discourage, his "political activities." And whether voting with our ballots or our wallets, both the processes and the end results - "We won't support your candidacy/business because we don't like what you say" - are the same.

                          And there's never been any guarantee of protection from such an equally legal response - either from voters or consumers - to one's speech.

                          That's also a part of the democratic process.  

                          •  I don't know why you think my examples are (0+ / 0-)

                            contrived.

                            For example, see http://jmichaelphillips.blogspot.com/...

                            Southern states also forced state and local NAACP chapters to file membership lists and lists of contributors with the state government, lists that were made public. In states like Louisiana, the White Citizens Councils then used these lists to target civil rights activists for harassment, firings, and business boycotts.
                            Apparently you believe that the government cannot legally prevent these kinds of concerted actions?
                            It's really only a matter of degrees. Political campaigns conducted by parties and/or interest groups amounting to not much more than "Don't vote for the other guy because he's a blankety-blank so-and-so," though distasteful, don't "subvert democracy;" indeed, they've long been part of the process.
                            Yes.  So?  That's very different from campaigns to boycott businesses that are owned by, buy from, or hire that blankety-blank so-and-so or his supporters.  One is the political process at work.  The second is an attempt to use economic power to penalize people for participating in the political process.
                    •  Ha ha ha...go ahead. nt (0+ / 0-)

                      A true craftsman will meticulously construct the apparatus of his own demise.

                      by onionjim on Mon Apr 14, 2014 at 11:21:37 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

          •  Ignore the troll (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            SuzieQ4624, ChemBob, dewtx

            he's being deliberately obtuse.

            Like all conservatives, he lives to lie.

  •  Money Has Now Overtly Captured the System. (5+ / 0-)

    The stats for almost 35 years is that government hasn't represented the nonrich at all, any time the wishes of the rich conflict.

    But between the simplistic constructions of speech and press freedom and the fixed cycles of election, and probably some other important features of our system such as the Supreme Court's power to edit the Constitution, elections and money are tightly intertwined, not easily be separated.

    Americans have not begun to grasp that we have problems more fundamental than the Constitution. Probably chief among them is that with our conception of rights, almost the entire sweep of communication and information, the space and development of ideas, is forbidden by ourselves to civilize.

    We surrender humanity's mind and soul to the nobility by the structure of our most precious freedoms, before thought or discourse ever begin.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Sun Apr 13, 2014 at 06:24:14 PM PDT

  •  The rubric goes: donating money is a form ... (7+ / 0-)

    ... of expression, of political discourse. Therefore, money is like speech.

    Making that equation was one of the biggest mistakes an earlier Supreme Court could make. From there, the logic is, er, impeccable. To squelch money is squelching speech. The logic isn't quite that direct ... yet, but the steps to it are getting shorter.

    Worse, this approach constitutionalizes campaign financing, putting much of it - perhaps ultimately all - beyond the power of Congress to limit and regulate. It could be argued that the Court is systematically taking away one of Congress's most important responsibilities, even if it has not acquitted itself well on the subject in the past.

    Public financing, anyone?

    2014 is HERE. Build up the Senate. Win back the House : 17 seats. Plus!

    by TRPChicago on Sun Apr 13, 2014 at 06:30:21 PM PDT

    •  If we accept (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Santa Susanna Kid, ChemBob, onionjim

      that money (in this case, basically used for bribery) is "speech" because it can communicate something, then pretty much everything is "speech."  Punching someone in the nose clearly communicates one's opinion on them, but I don't see how it can be justified as "free speech."

      I shall die, but that is all that I shall do for Death; I am not on his payroll. - Edna St. Vincent Millay

      by Tara the Antisocial Social Worker on Sun Apr 13, 2014 at 07:23:33 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Come on.... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        TRPChicago

        really?  Assault is still illegal last time I checked. But calling someone an @$$hole communicates that same opinion, and is legal, totally free speech.  I doubt you're too dense to understand the difference, but just to be clear.

        However, thanks to the brilliant legal minds of the Supreme Court, giving bags full of money to politicians for favors is no longer considered a bribe, it's "speech".

        Repealing Obamacare and cutting spending is not an economic plan.

        by SuzieQ4624 on Sun Apr 13, 2014 at 09:22:44 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  assault by $$$ (3+ / 0-)

          You don't need to punch someone in the nose to destroy them, if you have lots of money, you can do it other ways.

          Tara's point is that now tying your shoes is a political statement, according to the SCOTUS.

          The disgraceful aspect of this ruling is that its basically a punch in the nose to every American who can't afford to buy their own candidate. It makes politics into a wealthy person's game, which means they are slanting the field heavily toward the GOP, on purpose, to destroy democracy. The two decisions, side by side, will be looked on historically with shock and shame.

          A true craftsman will meticulously construct the apparatus of his own demise.

          by onionjim on Mon Apr 14, 2014 at 02:40:29 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  The Court willfully ignores money in politics. (3+ / 0-)

            With its tunnel vision premises that only corruption is the concern and the only corruption is quid pro quo bribery, the majority of the Court recklessly releases the malefactors of private interests.

            The justices are not naive or stupid people, however much some here at DK would vilify the justices in those terms. The point may not be buying a vote on a particular bill. It's access in order to influence, the purchased ability to reason together. It's the long hall. It's the big and little details. It's the threat that the money will not be there If ... and that it will go to an opponent instead. Why would influence need to be spoken when it is in the air officials and their staffs breathe?

            They simply will not accept the corrosive purposes of large amounts of campaign money. Can anyone credibly believe that a few sugar daddies showering the campaign with resources have no greater influence with an elected official than making a lot of fundraising calls seeking hundred dollar givers?

            Moreover, they purport not to understand that the public won't distinguish between campaign ads and issue ads in an election cycle. And how unbelievable the notion is that there is no coordination between "outside" groups and a candidate's campaign.

            Yes, your honors, as you have held, money talks. A lot of money talks louder. Where money is the currency that counts, there is no fair and honest competition among ideas.

            In the political arena, willful ignorance amounts to reckless indifference.

            2014 is HERE. Build up the Senate. Win back the House : 17 seats. Plus!

            by TRPChicago on Mon Apr 14, 2014 at 05:59:20 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Yes, exactly (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            onionjim

            If dumping a huge amount of money on a politician is just "speech," then pretty much anything can be deemed "speech" if you want it to be.  And I don't believe that was ever the point of the First Amendment.

            I shall die, but that is all that I shall do for Death; I am not on his payroll. - Edna St. Vincent Millay

            by Tara the Antisocial Social Worker on Mon Apr 14, 2014 at 06:45:18 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  Sorry if I wasn't clear (0+ / 0-)

          Of course it would be ridiculous to treat assault as "speech."  It's equally ridiculous to treat bribery as "speech," but that's what the Supremes are doing.

          I shall die, but that is all that I shall do for Death; I am not on his payroll. - Edna St. Vincent Millay

          by Tara the Antisocial Social Worker on Mon Apr 14, 2014 at 07:19:35 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  I think the question isn't whether money can (7+ / 0-)

    express political views - of course it can. What's absurd about the Robertson Five's position is that it seems to assume that anything that expresses a political view is thereby protected by the First Amendment. If your political views make you go and shoot a supporter of a view you oppose, or beat them up, or report them to the cops for stuff they didn't do, then all of these actions can be seen as you expressing your political views. Yet none of them are protected under the Constitution. So the thing about the First Amendment is that once Freedom of Expression is understood to cover more than the use of words for saying what you believe in, then it follows that the First can not hold unconditionally. There are in fact considerations that trump your freedom to express yourself. Therefore, the First Amendment does not give cover to legalizing corruption, contrary to what the Roberts Five believe.

    "I understand, Mr. Spock. The glory of creation is in its infinite diversity."

    by brainwave on Sun Apr 13, 2014 at 06:34:24 PM PDT

  •  ... :) ... (0+ / 0-)

    Ignorance is bliss only for the ignorant. The rest of us must suffer the consequences. -7.38; -3.44

    by paradise50 on Sun Apr 13, 2014 at 06:48:35 PM PDT

  •  Citizens United and McCutcheon are easy to fix (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ChemBob, Grey Fedora, Maverick80229

    First, US voters have to get rid of Boehner, his boneheads, and the Tali-baggers. Then Rep. Pelosi becomes Speaker with a majority. Second, US voters have to keep the Senate as a Democratic party majority. Both are do-able, but not sure things.

    Next, the Democrats have to put a Federal "excise tax" on all political advertising--ALL. And it should be a 38% tax to start with and be followed with threats to make it a 50% or more tax if the GOPigs squeal too loudly.

    Real speech is free. Advertising is expensive. As a tax/budget bill, the political speech tax would not be subject to the filibuster.

    We're all just working for Pharoah.

    by whl on Sun Apr 13, 2014 at 06:52:06 PM PDT

  •  The first amendment includes freedom of the press (2+ / 0-)

    it takes resources generally purchased with money to project speech beyond shouting to a crowd on a street corner.  

    At the time of the Constitution individuals would pay from their own pockets and funds from others to print pamphlets with political speech - including the Federalist Papers.  Printing at that times was extremely expensive.

    There is effectively no freedom of the press without the freedom to raise funds and spend money to publish.

    I don't see Democrats at any disadvantage in the ability to be competitive to raise funds and other resources for political speech and win elections.

    I accept the fact that Jon Stewart's voice is heard far more widely than mine (while he makes $25 million/yr), as is MSNBC, Fox News, New York Times, Rush Limbaugh, etc...   But there has never been a time that all citizens had equal resources  to publish their speech.  I think that in all of US history there has never been a time when individuals had greater access to publish their speech  - youtube  Twitter, Facebook, political blogs, etc for essentially no additional cost beyond what they already spend for communication.

    The first amendment works by prohibiting laws that restrict speech.  The first amendment does not discuss equal or even remotely near access to publish speech.

    The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

    by nextstep on Sun Apr 13, 2014 at 06:52:43 PM PDT

    •  The first amendment is not absolute (4+ / 0-)

      We have already carved out many exemptions, without much or any controversy about it. Perjury, slander, and libel are all forms of speech...and all three are illegal. The Constitution does not mention them anywhere yet we have agreed as a society that those forms of speech do not deserve First Amendment protection. We see the danger to society if we permit these forms of speech.

      Most people see the potential danger of suborning legislators indirectly via campaign contributions, even if no quid pro quo is explicitly part of the arrangement. I do not see why this so-called form of speech deserves protection under the First Amendment when it presents a similar danger to our democracy.

  •  Fund raising is bribery (4+ / 0-)

    Pure and simple.

    Great article in Al Jazeera: Campaign Fundraising is Bribery

    From the article:

    The court pointedly dismissed “the possibility that an individual who spends large sums may garner ‘influence over or access to’ elected officials” as a reason to limit campaign donations.
    That is the most absurd delusion.  Of course spending money buys you influence - that's why you do it!  At least at the large levels - my $3 click through contributions haven't gotten me much yet.
  •  Your counter argument (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Rich in PA

    is the one argument that is actually pro citizens united.

    Donating to a political candidate is of course part of free speak.

    If you or I was not allowed to donate to Barack Obama that would be blatantly a violation of our free speech.  Ie if we were not allowed to spend our own money buy a yard sign that said "BO 4 Prez 2012" and put it up. That would be a clear violation.... We are allowed to spend our money how we want.

    The argument that corporations are not people is a strong one.

    The argument that supporting a candidate  financially is not part of our freedom of speech is a silly & loosing one.

    •  This isn't about absolutely no spending (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Krotor, FogCityJohn, SuzieQ4624

      this was about rational limits that have now been lifted. AFAIAC, the Koch Bros. can buy all the yard signs for Rethugs that they want, but when they continuously lie on the TV and radio while spending millions of dollars to do so, that drowns out the rest of us, many of whom live in scientific reality and understand finite systems. I don't want rich "liberals" making the ultimate decisions about our presidential choices either. I want all of us to have a say.

      •  We could kill two birds with one stone (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ChemBob, SuzieQ4624

        Campaign finance reform with a per person limit equal to 10 hours of work at the federal minimum wage. Everyone, rich or not, would be free to "speak" at the same volume. And the side benefit is you can be absolutely certain that the minimum wage will be indexed to inflation so the politicians will never find their campaign dollars dwindling in purchasing power!

      •  Free speech (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Rich in PA

        is not limited by amount,

        How free a speech do you want? maybe we are only allowed to donate $.10 to Obama? Sound reasonable to you?

        Putting arbitrary amount limits on our freedoms..is well.... arbitrary and does not fit well within our constitutional framework.

        Ill be blunt, the political/legal argument "Money ≠ Speech" is an unwinnable albatross the right would love the left to carry.

        The winnable argument is that corporations are not people and corporations do not have the right to free speech.

  •  Supreme collaboration of corruption (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ChemBob, Maverick80229

    There is something very wrong with these  five supreme judges. I am suspicious of their motives and question their integrity. From money is speech to corporations are people to gutting civil rights laws.  Clearly these five men have upended our democracy and are a threat to America as we know it.

    If we lie to the government, it's a felony...but if they lie to us it's politics.

    by rmb on Sun Apr 13, 2014 at 07:38:10 PM PDT

  •  Right to travel. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Rich in PA

    Along with free speech, we also have freedom of movement in the USA.  Say the govt. passed a law that prohibited people from spending more than $2500/yr on vacations.  Would you say that the right to travel has been violated?  If yes, why??  Money isn't travel.

  •  How the case should have been argued (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SuzieQ4624, Krotor, StevenWells

    Even if one accepts the contention (which I do not) that money equals speech, the fact remains that the right to free speech is not absolute.  We already accept numerous limits on what can be spoken or written.  For instance, there are laws prohibiting libel and slander.  You are not free to advocate the violent overthrow of the U.S. government or reveal classified information.  These and other restrictions on speech are readily accepted by almost everyone, including all of the justices on the Supreme Court.

    It follows that any speech can be limited if there is felt to be an overriding public interest in doing so.  In the case of political campaigns, the public interest at stake is the preservation of a vibrant democracy.  The legal argument is logical and straightforward, but no one, including the federal government's own lawyers, seems willing to make it.  They are caught up in quid pro quo nonsense, which everyone already knows is the way business is done in Washington.  In truth, our democracy would have to be resurrected before it could become vibrant.

  •  How about handbills, posters, radio broadcasts, (0+ / 0-)

    performance of issue-themed plays, etc?
    The first amendment has been held to protect expression, not to limit the form of that expression.

    LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

    by dinotrac on Sun Apr 13, 2014 at 09:43:29 PM PDT

  •  Turn out turn out turn out....! (3+ / 0-)

    There is only one thing that is going to counteract money in the 2014 elections and that is showing up at the polls. We will not out raise guys like the Koch brothers, Sheldon Adelson or Bruce Rauner. In 2012, the Koch's spent an awful lot of money but did not get very much in return. Bad ROI as they say in the biz.

    One more thing, the McCutcheon decision does two things. First it allows people with means to buy politicians as so intelligently explained above.

    Secondly, It is more silent but it discourages people from even bothering to show up at the polls. If the general voters feel as if they are outgunned money wise they will say-"The hell with it."

    Democrats should spend more time getting the vote out rather than negative ads against republicans.

    Again, we will never out raise them.

  •  Money being speech (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Maverick80229

    what a joke.

    “Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. Three times is enemy action.” — Auric Goldfinger

    by LeftHandedMan on Mon Apr 14, 2014 at 03:07:45 AM PDT

  •  Money is speech, so get used to it. (0+ / 0-)

    Or should the government be allowed to limit your ability to drive from place to place to participate in campaigns, since "transportation isn't speech"?  Freedom of speech means that everyone gets to speak; it isn't negated at some constitutional level by the fact that a few people have a wildly disproportionate ability to get their speech out there.  All of this blather is just defeatism, an attempt to explain away years of bad Democratic policies and strategies.

    It's not the side effects of the cocaine/I'm thinking that it must be love

    by Rich in PA on Mon Apr 14, 2014 at 04:13:00 AM PDT

    •  So how do we know when the line is crossed... (0+ / 0-)

      from "money is speech" to "buying an election"? Or has that quaint idea that someone might try to buy an election with money now become obsolete under the latest SCOTUS "money is speech" decisions? Are there now any limits to "money is speech", and if so, what would they be? Or will they be in the form of Justice Potter Stewart's famous comment in his obscenity opinion, "I know it when I see it."? It just seems to me there has to be a limit somewhere, or else we've just made it legal to sell government to the highest bidder.

      But if the cause be not good, the king himself hath a heavy reckoning to make, ... there are few die well that die in a battle; ... Now, if these men do not die well, it will be a black matter for the king that led them to it; — Shakespeare, ‘Henry V’

      by dewtx on Mon Apr 14, 2014 at 10:14:14 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Money vs Speech (0+ / 0-)

    Money is not speech.  Money is property.  We have known for while that the Republicans think that property is more important than the citizens of this country.

  •  The Politization of SCOTUS (0+ / 0-)

    Its been obvious since Bush v. Gore that SCOTUS is no longer a legal body dedicated to rendering impartial interpretations of the law, but simply another political branch of government governed by majority rules with little regard for the Constitutional text or precedent.

    Right now we have a 5-4 conservative majority.  But whenever we achieve a 5-4 progressive majority on the court (hopefully soon), we are likely going to have the same majority rulings only in reverse.  While I would definitely agree that a 5-4 progressive court is far better for the common folk in this Country than the current 5-4 conservative court, a small part of me wishes SCOTUS could return to the esteemed legal body it once was and not just a bunch of partisan Republicans or Democrats cloaked in black robes.  

    "Some men see things as they are and ask, 'Why?' I dream of things that never were and ask, 'Why not?"

    by Doctor Who on Mon Apr 14, 2014 at 04:48:08 AM PDT

  •  Paid speech (0+ / 0-)

    I'm not opposed to someone paying money to publish their positions, but that's what it needs to be: David Koch standing in front of the camera going blah, blah, blah, and ending "I'm David Koch and this is my message."  

    Instead what we get are millions of dollars going to develop and broadcast carefully designed psychological campaigns, intended not to inform anyone or even express an opinion, but rather to use visual and audio cues to create emotional responses.  If you've won over people's hearts, their minds will follow.  Facts not required.  

    I am also concerned about non-constituent spending.  I'm really not sure you should have the right to interfere in a campaign for someone or something you're not a qualified voter for.  I was especially struck by Justice Roberts' statement in the McCutcheon decision that elected officials should be expected to pay attention to their "constituents" (when he was talking about donors).  Roberts essentially endorsed government by the wealthy.  

    But unfortunately, these decisions raise the flow of money to incumbents of both parties, so there is no way Congress will do anything about it.  It was a huge flaw in the Constitution to not provide any way to limit the power of Congress to serve itself.

    I'm still mad about Nixon.

    by J Orygun on Mon Apr 14, 2014 at 10:47:20 AM PDT

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