Thursday, June 3, 2010

That Pesky "Free Speech" Thing

In my previous post, I said that I thought McCain Feingold was unconstitutional.  Among other things, it restricted ads in the 60 days prior to the general election so that they could only be funded by a few types of groups.  In doing so, it limited the right of people to speak their mind and political speech is the most protected type of speech there is.  You can't just tell people or groups who could afford to buy a campaign ad that their opinions are not allowed in the public sphere.

Again, "unconstitutional" is what I say (and it's a pretty commonly held opinion among conservatives and libertarians).  The Supremes narrowly ruled that a small part of the law was invalid, in the Citizen's United vs. the FEC case last fall.  To the socialist left, allowing people wealthy enough to buy national air time to speak is terrifying, and they want to overturn the Supreme's decision.  Enter the DISCLOSE act.  Readers of Rawles Survivalblog  will recognize when I say it was sponsored by "He who hits the fan". 

There are always unintended consequences from new laws.  This one might be an easy to use database so that when you interview for a job they can make sure you don't contribute to any organizations they don't approve of.  Such as the NRA, - thanks to Snowflakes in Hell, a Pennsylvania Firearms blog.  Naturally, unions such as SEIU are exempt.

Reason Magazine's Jacob Sullum does a great fisking of the DISCLOSE act:
The "stand by your ad" statements required by the DISCLOSE Act also impose a substantial burden on the exercise of First Amendment rights. Under current law, a political ad has to include a statement indicating the sponsoring organization—say, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce or the American Civil Liberties Union. Under the DISCLOSE Act, both the organization's head and its "significant funder" would have to appear in the ad and take responsibility for it. According to the Center for Competitive Politics, these statements would consume one-third to one-half of the time in a 30-second TV spot.
The anxiety and uncertainty created by the new rules would be compounded by the fact that they would take effect 30 days after the law is enacted, before the FEC would have time to issue regulations clarifying them. Opposing an amendment that would have postponed the effective date until January 1, Rep. Michael Capuano (D-Mass.) said he wants people to worry about a fine or prison sentence when they dare to speak ill of him.
"I hope it chills out all—not one side, all sides!" said Capuano. "I have no problem whatsoever keeping everybody out. If I could keep all outside entities out, I would."
Similarly, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), upon unveiling the bill, said "the deterrent effect should not be underestimated." For those who view nonpoliticians as meddlesome "outside entities" and criticism of incumbents as a crime to be deterred, the chilling effect of campaign finance laws is a feature, not a bug.
Those people outside the beltway are just so out of touch....

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