The Wenatchee World

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Free speech and its regulators

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It’s about freedom of speech, and nothing else. It is about government stopping or controlling you when you express your political opinion. It is a debate over when government is justified in limiting how your political views are expressed. It is about two views of freedom of speech protected by the First Amendment. Does the First Amendment forbid government to interfere in political debate, or is government the essential regulator protecting the fullest public expression in the “marketplace of ideas”?

The fundamentals will be lost when discussing the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision Wednesday in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission. The court did not strike down the limits on contributions to individual candidates, but the controls on the number of candidates and committeees a donor may support, the “aggregate limit” of federal election law. The critics will say the Supreme Court is bent on eviscerating campaign finance laws and handing government to hyper-rich conservatives. With this ruling and its corporate personhood granted in Citizens United, the court promotes oligarchy where the rich rule and the voice of ordinary people is drowned out in the white noise of right-wing issue ads.

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