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Thursday, January 21, 2010

Supreme Court Upholds Free Speech, Strikes Down Campaign Finance Laws, McCain-Feingold

What a development! And not a moment too soon. I have wondered where the Supreme Court has been all these years as the rest of the Federal government continues to violate the provisions of its Constitution. Now free speech has finally been vindicated and I can only hope that more vindications of our Constitutionally-enumerated freedoms and the rule of law are on the horizon.

Here's the headline:

The Hill:
Supreme Court strikes down campaign finance restrictions

"The Supreme Court struck down major provisions of campaign finance reform on Thursday, clearing the way for an influx of corporate and union money in politics.

The court upheld disclosure requirements for corporations but struck down the distinction between individual expenditures and corporate ones. That should allow corporations to spend freely in support or opposition to candidates.

'No sufficient governmental interest justifies limits on the political speech of nonprofit or for-profit corporations,' Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in the 5-4 decision, led by the court's conservative wing."

Live Coverage:

And SCOTUSblog is covering developments on this story with live updates (Hat tip: Instapundit).

Analysis: has some great analysis here:

"In the first challenges to the BCRA (McCain-Feingold), the earlier court appeared to accept the notion that one has to break a few First Amendment eggs to get a clean-elections omelette. This court has apparently decided that Congress should amend the First Amendment if it has grown tired of it, rather than pass laws that contradict it. The fact that only five of the nine justices could reach that rather obvious conclusion shows how much judicial activism and Congressional overreach have in common — especially the sense that they can manipulate clear boundaries of power for whatever end they seek."

...and an answer to the concern that the Supreme Court ruling will corrupt our campaign process with corporate money:

"Will this open the floodgates to corporate and union money in elections? Well, it never really left. The restrictions in the BCRA and other campaign-finance 'reforms' just forced the money into less-transparent channels, creating mini-industries of money laundering in politics. This ruling will just allow the money to be seen for what it is, rather than hiding behind PR-spin PAC names and shadowy contribution trails."

Transparency = Real Campaign Finance Reform

They've got the right idea at the Liberty Papers:

As I’ve said many times before, the only campaign finance regulation that we need is full and complete disclosure.

EXACTLY! Transparency. You know? That thing that Obama promised we'd get, but that we've actually had less of during his year in office? (Which is a remarkable feat considering how much transparency suffered under Bush's onslaught.)

One More Stick In McCain's Eye

I do love Michelle Malkin's jab here: "Yet another reminder of how wrong-headed McCain has been on so many, many issues." Yup. Go get him, Chris Simcox!


  1. So Corporations, who exist only by Government 'fiat', now have 'human rights'.


    Libertarians shouldn't even want corporations to exist, as they are created by government to give certain citizens "limited liability" which has never existed in the 'free market'.

  2. As I have expressed to you before, corporations per se are not the creation of the government, though many aspects governing their existence (such as limited liability) do have their origins in written law.

    But setting that aside, this is a classic example of using more government to cure the problem of an over-reaching government. If laws governing corporations are bad, then repeal them. Don't pass more laws restricting more freedoms to correct the problems the first inappropriate laws created.

  3. corporations with limited liability have never existed in a free market until government created them.

    a group of people petitioned the government to allow them limited liability, (1865)or other rights not found in the free market (before and after 1865), and for a fee, the government granted it to them.

    Shareholders have more rights than sole propritorships do.

    Since governments give corporations extra rights, they can restrict others.

    If you don't like the trade off in rights, there is no one forcing you to form a corporation.

    People can donate whatever they want, frankly, that should be the campaign finance law we have.

    our founding fathers did not want corporations influencing elections at all.

  4. I am a statist, so I am all for more laws.

    for some reason most 'free market' types are fine with the limited liability provisions granted to some by the government.

    (hayek gave them a pass because they increase competition, but he has fallen out of favor because he was a 'statist' also

  5. Wes,

    Corporations never existed until they were created by government and they did not exist when our founding fathers were penning the Declaration of Independence or our Constitution.

    Corporations, unions, and all of those other groups that involve people working together do not vote and as such should have no voice in an election.

    I would have assumed that libertarians feared fascism as much as they feared socialism....and this proves me wrong.

    So, you save 'the individual' from the domination of government only to feed the individual into the servitude of nationalistic corporatism...

  6. You can rest assured that I am an enemy of fascism as much as I am of other forms of socialism. In fact I see fascism as the form of socialism America is quickly spiraling into and the greatest threat to our freedoms. I rail against corporate welfare and corruption on this blog regularly.

    As for the origin of corporations, I don't see why as a matter of voluntary cooperation and by means of contractual agreements made on a free market, individuals could not pool together their savings to provide capital for a business, voluntarily agree to rules governing risk and liability in the event of bankruptcy, and appoint managers to run the business- something akin to a corporation.

  7. As soon as this decision came out, I got emails from MoveOn, Common Cause, and a few others suggesting that we immediately support the Fair Elections Now Act. Is that bill compatible with libertarian ideas?

  8. I doubt it. Doing some looking around on the Internet, it looks like this would set up a public (i.e. taxpayer-supported) fund to pay for qualifying candidates' campaigns? If I'm wrong, please let me know.

    If that is the case, I don't at all like the idea of your tax dollars paying to help elect someone you disagree with whether you'd like to pay for their campaign or not. Most libertarians don't care much for publicly (i.e. forcibly) funded anything.

    Looking over who's cosponsored it and who supports it, I grow even more skeptical (the fact that MoveOn supports it is a red flag to me).

  9. That's the feeling I got from looking at it as well. So this may be another case where certain groups are going to try to use an event (the court ruling) as a rallying point to try to pass even worse legislation to try to fix an unrelated problem. (similar to your example above of using more government to fix bad government). If so, maybe Libertarians should be calling their senators and asking them NOT to support this bill, especially in the heat of the moment?

    Is there some Libertarian group/list equivalent to MoveOn for liberals, or AOPA for pilots or similar, that watches for these things and attempts to coordinate contacting legislators?

  10. Absolutely!

    I'd get signed up at Campaign for Liberty right away:

    Another good one is Downsize DC at:

  11. Wes : I just put up a post tonight on this issue. I linked to your post as a source. Hope you do't mind.

    Long Live Liberty and the Republic.

    As it should be!


  13. Now do they get that from government, or could they enter into voluntary agreements with their creditors to arrange a "heirarchy" of risk/reward wherein different kinds of stakeholders assume different amounts of liability?


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