Another Assault On Free Speech
June 25, 2010 by Bob Livingston
Free speech opponents in Congress found a way to squeeze a bill through the House of Representatives that will stifle 1st Amendment rights for the four months prior to an election.
The deceptively-named DISCLOSE Act of 2010 should more accurately be called the Incumbency Protection Act, because protecting their jobs is precisely what the liberals in the House are trying to do.
The bill reverses the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Citizen’s United vs. FEC that upheld the right of corporations to spend on political advertising in candidate elections. The 5-4 decision prompted President Barack Obama to classlessly chide the Supreme Court during his State of the Union address; an event unprecedented in its hubris.
What the DISCLOSE Act, passed late yesterday, will do is force any corporation that runs political advertising to name its top five contributors in the ad and make a complete list available upon request. It will also drown the corporation in red tape in order to comply with the vagaries of the bill.
At first glance one might think banning corporations from political advertising would be a good thing. But think again.
Corporations in this sense mean not large companies—say General Electric or Goldman Sachs—but special interest groups that advocate for their members like the National Rifle Association (NRA), AARP and Chamber of Commerce. And what’s worse, if you and a group of your friends wanted to ban together, pool your money and run adds opposing your local Congressman or State Senator, you would not be able to do that.
Not surprisingly, the bill does not affect the way unions spend. In fact The Hill recently reported that two unions will spend close to $100 million to re-elect the present majority in Congress.
So what Congress wants to do is let unions spend willy-nilly the money from dues that its members are FORCED to pay, and spend it on causes or candidates that members themselves may or may not agree with. But organizations in which people voluntarily make contributions because they support its cause or agenda are unable to advertise on their members’ behalf.
And liberals in Congress think that’s fair.
The 1st Amendment was written not to protect the speech that everyone wants to hear. It’s there to protect the speech that people don’t want to hear. For the fascists in Congress, at election time that’s just intolerable.