COLUMN: The right to free expression
I am an advocate of the 2010 Citizens United v. Federal Elections Committee Supreme Court decision.
Now, before you begin to hate or ignore me, here are a few questions that I would like to pose:
Should the ACLU, a non-profit corporation that advocates for civil liberties, be allowed to produce a television commercial excoriating a former KKK Grand Wizard while he pursues office?
Should the American Federation of Labor be allowed to issue a pamphlet that criticizes the stances of potential politicians on unions?
These are both things that Deputy Solicitor General Malcolm L. Stewart argued should be illegal, and likely would have been, had the Supreme Court decided otherwise in its controversial 2010 ruling.
Now why is that? Well, the case was about a conservative lobbying group known as Citizens United and an amusing on-demand cable film they wished to air called, "Hillary: The Movie." However, the action of airing the film would turn out to be illegal.
Essentially, the 2002 McCain–Feingold Act banned “electioneering communications,” which it considered to be any union or corporation-sponsored television/radio advertisement mentioning a candidate pursuing federal office.
But wasn’t Citizens United controversial because corporations could anonymously purchase candidates through political action committees?
No, this is a ludicrous conclusion. Although the Supreme Court’s ruling did allow for the creation of super PACs, a super PAC is no more worrisome than a Furby.
A super PAC is an organization that has the ability to acquire campaign contributions from corporations, unions and individuals alike, have no limit to these contributions and is prohibited from donating cash directly to candidates.
The controversy with super PACs is their ability to receive funds from 501(c)4 non-profits, some of which may not disclose their donors for a variety of purposes.
A 2012 Demos study found 5.6 percent of all super PAC funds come from these non-profits, while it estimates that 6.4 percent of all super PAC funds in total were unfeasibly traceable.
Wow, with 6.4 percent of all super PACs’ funds coming from anonymous sources, surely the integrity of our democracy is at stake.
Except for, oh wait, super PAC funds can at worst essentially be used for advertisements and the majority of people are not complete idiots.
I mean, how many people base their votes on nothing but advertisements? Have a sliver of faith in the American populace.
Regardless, I would like to remind everyone that any law that requires the government to arbitrarily decide what political speech is or is not permitted is impossible to reconcile with the notion of free expression.
People as human beings deserve the opportunity to determine what speech they hear and speak and under no circumstances can the government justly deny them that right.