The news hit the political front with the expected clash of ideologies. The left was appalled at yet another blow that would flood the political process with a tidal wave of cash. The right hailed their newfound “freedom” to extend their political reach with that tidal wave reaching across the entire nation.
While most of the media plainly state the ruling as striking down limits on campaign contributions, few are willing to challenge the Roberts Court claim that these limits “intrude without justification on a citizen’s ability to exercise ‘the most fundamental First Amendment activities’”.
Is the real purpose of campaign finance caps, as Investor’s Business Daily states, an unjustified means of “trying to prevent people financing their own political speech”?
Fact: McCutcheon v. FEC ends over 100 years of battling corruption through limits on campaign spending.
The 1800s were rife with accusations of individuals buying their appointments to the US Senate through the state legislators. One of the more notorious incidents involved William Clark, the “Copper King” of Montana. His bribery of state legislators was so blatant that the Senate refused to seat him after his first campaign, prompting this bombast from Mark Twain: “no one has helped to send him to the Senate who did not know that his proper place was the penitentiary, with a chain and ball on his legs.”
The New York State insurance scandal followed, exposing political payoffs and enormous sums of money for legislative lobbying. Theodore Roosevelt came under similar attack during his Presidential election, along with Republican William McKinley who preceded him in office. In an effort to quiet the calls for investigations, President Roosevelt advocated “vigorous measures to eradicate” corruption, saying, “The power of the Government to protect the integrity of the elections of its own officials is inherent and has been recognized and affirmed by repeated declarations of the Supreme Court. There is no enemy of free government more dangerous and none so insidious as the corruption of the electorate.”
As a result, the United States gained our first anti-corruption legislation, the Tillman Act of 1907. While not as broad as many progressive leaders called for at the time, the Act prohibited corporations from making a “money contribution in connection with any election.”
Corruption remained so bad that it became necessary to eliminate state party influence on senate elections through the enactment of the 17th Amendment in April 1913. The Illinois State Grange bluntly proclaimed, “the United States Senate is largely composed of millionaires, who frequently owe their election to the lavish expenditure of money…” This was the feeling of a majority of the States at the time, who pushed for a Constitutional Convention to change the method of electing Senators.
One hundred years later, almost to the day, the five conservative justices of the Supreme Court would have us believe that money in politics is nothing more than a “repugnant” form of protected speech, like “flag burning, funeral protests, and Nazi parades.” Continue reading “Free Speech Wins Big” in McCutcheon Ruling? It’s FALSE NEWS!