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Free Speech Gone Wild
McCutcheon v. FEC

April 3, 2014 by William P. Meyers

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According to the Supreme Court of the United States, Congress can't pass a law that sets overall limits on an individual's contributions to all federal candidates for office. The Supreme Court says that is unconstitutional because it violates your free speech rights, if you have over $48,600 to spend on free speech in a given election cycle. Leftists will say that this favors billionaires, but I can see millionaires being hit by the cap as well. They also struck down the limits on contributions to political party committees, which was $74,600.

The case is McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, No. 12-536.

Next up, is giving a Supreme Court judge a large gift of cash, as long as it is accompanied by free speech and not a tit-for-tat for a particular ruling, legal?

It is going to be hard for ordinary millionaires who don't follow legal disputes closely to get their heads around the new rules. Used to be, when some whiney politician held his hand out at a chicken dinner, you could say "Sorry boss, I'd like to help more but I already hit the $48,600 limit. Perhaps you'd like to accompany me on a trip to the whore houses, I mean ski slopes, of Switzerland?"

$48,600 to a billionaire, or even a $100 millionaire, is like pocket change to us. It isn't even pocket change, it is like fluff, it just accumulates in their pockets, they don't even know exactly how. Five minutes of interest, or the wife missing her spa appointment, or returning some designer boots and handbags, and there it is, the former 2-year cycle federal campaign contribution limit.

Me, I like free speech. Just as I can have a meal that is tasty and will keep me healthy for 1/10,000 of what the same would cost for a billionaire, I have some ideas about influencing politics with my $5 and $10 bills, and I'm sure the new, improved Supreme Court will rule in my favor, even if speechifying this way happens to be temporarily illegal under the unconstitutional laws written by Congress and those pesky State Legislatures.

First, let's review the two key passages from the Constitution.

The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time by Law make or alter such Regulations. [Article I, Section 4]

That seems pretty clear. "Manner" seems to cover a lot of ground, including prohibiting horse whipping candidates you don't like, buying votes, requiring Jewish candidates to wear yellow stars. Until yesterday "Manner" included regulating the amount of legal tender non-candidates can donate to the campaigns of candidates.

Opposed to that we have:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble. [Amendment I]

Free speech is important, but is a law regulating election contributions an infringement of free speech?

If it is, then I think a lot of other laws are infringing free speech. For instance, punching someone in the nose could be free speech, if your fist is acting as an extension of your mouth or pen, as opposed to merely assaulting someone for ordinary aggressive or criminal reasons. Maybe this would only be true if the punched person holds office, or is running for office, or going door to door soliciting votes for someone who is running for office.

Courts have consistently ruled that workers forming a picket line that interferes with commerce (that is, the business they are working for) is not a form of free speech. Maybe that is what we are not getting about Chief Justice Roberts and crew: the campaign limits interfere with commerce. What about a picket line than prevents a candidate from reaching a debate? What about two powerful political parties that exclude third party candidates from debates?

What about blowing Robert's head off with a shotgun? That is probably going too far. What about advocating that someone should blow Robert's head off with a shotgun? As Robert's said, that sounds "repugnant," and neither Gandhi nor your average citizen who thinks we should all obey all of the laws no matter how stupid they are unless they are personally inconvenient would want to split that hair too finely. What about a billionaire paying an assassin more than $48,600 to blow off Robert's head? Well, as best I can tell from Robert's reasoning in McCutcheon, that would be just fine, now. That is just free speech. Of course, billionaires are selective in whom they send their free speech implementers after.

I'm not sure why smoking marijuana is not free speech. Perhaps because not even a billionaire can smoke up over $48,600 in two years, not without help from the wife and kids?

Why isn't stealing from campaign funds (including candidate's using campaign funds for non-political purposes) free speech? Isn't speaking negatively about something okay? If not, why can campaigns run attack ads?

Why not just abolish the charade of Congress and let the Supreme Court decide everything?

Let's just hope that one or more of the five rich people's whores on the court dies soon, no matter which way. As much as I don't trust President Obama's judgment, I would expect him to appoint at least slightly better replacements.

What can a true patriot do in this situation to prevent the Rule of Money? I would say there are a number of options, but the Homeland Security Apparatus and the current Supreme Court might consider it conspiracy, not protected speech, if I were to mention certain of them.

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