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A Dash of Pepper

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Recently, the United States Supreme Court drove a stake into the heart and soul of the atrocious McCain-Feingold bill. This awful piece of legislation purported to reform the way political campaigns are financed.
What it really did was put unconstitutional limits on our most basic right - that of free speech and free expression. As a journalist, I was, at first, nonplussed when the law passed and then appalled by it. I was alternately saddened and angered by John McCain's participation in crafting a terrible piece of legislation. Anyone to who reads this column regularly knows that I took a shot at McCain-Feingold as often as possible, so I feel gratified by the Court's ruling.
Some background: A nonprofit corporation, Citizens United, wanted to make a film available on cable-on-demand that was critical of then-candidate Hilary Clinton.
Because Citizens United is organized as a corporation, its speech was banned under McCain-Feingold.
Citizens United challenged the ban, and on January 21st, the Supreme Court struck down this provision of McCain-Feingold and reversed a previous decision that allowed government to ban corporations, nonprofits and labor unions from promoting or opposing political candidates. This applied to a period 30 days before a primary election and 60 DAYS before a general election. The government could ban almost anything during those periods - movies, cable (purchased) programs, TV ads, and radio ads. Oddly, as I recall, print media was exempted!
The ruling represents a huge victory for free speech and a serious blow to proponents of campaign finance "reform."
This ruling is a straightforward application of basic First Amendment principles. The ruling states:
"When Government seeks to use its full power ... to command where a person may get his or her information or what distrusted sources he or she may not hear, it uses censorship to control thought. This is unlawful. The First Amendment confirms the freedom to think for ourselves."
The Founders said: "The Congress shall make no law ... abridging the freedom of speech."
Thank God for the Constitution and our Founders and for the narrow 5-4 vote of the U.S. Supreme Court.
Senator McCain is up for re-election in November. It will be very interesting to see if he encounters primary opposition and what form that opposition may take.
Last Updated on Saturday, 30 January 2010 00:20