Good editorial report t=by the Pittsburgh Tribune Review
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
What is our condition of liberty when the chief justice of the United States is impelled to say this in defense of free speech?
"Discussion of issues cannot be suppressed simply because the issues also may be pertinent in an election. Where the First Amendment is implicated, the tie goes to the speaker, not the censor," wrote John Roberts.
The U.S. Supreme Court, 5-4, Monday struck down application of a portion of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law. The court ruled Wisconsin Right to Life should have been permitted to run TV and radio issue ads paid with corporate dollars within 60 days of the general election.
In 2004, the group asked voters to contact Wisconsin U.S. Sens. Russ Feingold, running for re-election, and Herb Kohl, who was not, and urge them to refrain from filibustering President Bush's judicial nominees.
The court was right -- but incompletely.
How elected officials treat issues has a direct impact on voters; issues ads and electioneering ads are not constitutionally different. Justice Antonin Scalia could not condone trying to draw impossible distinctions; he found it ironic that a law to muzzle big corporations and unions hurt a small advocacy group.
In sum, the supposed "corrupting" influence of big money resulted in a law that directly undermined the people's right to speak collectively.
The censor lost this case. But he never rests.