Friday, April 4, 2014

Money Is Not Speech

It seems that the five Supreme Court Justices are lacking in simple communication theory.  The recent McCutcheon decision is just one more example how the Robert's court is very, very confused on this issue.  The recent ruling will further empower the tool of money is being used to purchase and create policy in America that favors those with the proper tools; cold, hard cash.  Justice Breyer pulls back no punches when he makes the travesty of this ruling absolutely clear in his dissent:

Today a majority of the Court overrules this holding. It is wrong to do so. Its conclusion rests upon its own, not a record-based, view of the facts. Its legal analysis is faulty: It misconstrues the nature of the competing constitutional interests at stake. It understates the importance of pro­ tecting the political integrity of our governmental insti- tutions. It creates a loophole that will allow a single individual to contribute millions of dollars to a political party or to a candidate’s campaign. Taken together with Citi- zens United v. Federal Election Comm’n, 558 U. S. 310 (2010), today’s decision eviscerates our Nation’s campaign finance laws, leaving a remnant incapable of dealing with the grave problems of democratic legitimacy that those laws were intended to resolve. 
The talk that money is speech is simply wrong.  Money is the tool used to get your speech heard.  The question must be one of should we regulate the tools being used and how they are used.  The clear answer is yes.  The government has always agreed in regulating tools.  Cities have sound ordinances that prevent people from playing loud music after certain hours.  Governments regulate bill boards and other advertisements and even ban certain types of advertisements (tobacco and other limits).  Laws are passed that place restrictions on when you can and can't use your cell phones while in a moving vehicle.  So, why does the Supreme Court feel the need to treat money, a tool, as if it is of the same level of actual speech?

The second misstep in the majorities thinking is that if money is speech, isn't it also a requirement that the person using that speech take ownership of it?  If I want to rant about the evils of the GOP, I can, but people will know who said it.  If I refuse to take ownership of the message, is it protected?  If the Supreme Court wants to claim that money is a tool to allow for free speech and association with a candidate, than the person associating with the candidate must be willing to be recognized and open with the communication.

Despite the fact that Isaac Latterell will tell you he needs more of your money to be an effective leader because he is not getting enough of it from lobbyist and big donors, money as a tool for communication must be heavily regulated.  The flood of money into the institution of of our government simply erodes the trust of the people in our government.  That is compelling enough of reason to regulate the tool of money.

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