Down With Freedom Of Speech!   Leave a comment

New York TimesThe pesky Constitution. Because of it, everything is getting confused. And Freedom of Speech? Impossible. It’s wrong, too. Just ask the New York Times.

They’re subtle about it. But they ran an article September 17 explaining how political fund-raising in New Jersey is side-stepping the law. What they didn’t say is that the fund-raising was completely supported by a Supreme Court ruling this year.

Apparently the Times thought it important to note how awful it is that political fund-raising isn’t done the way they would like. Apparently, they don’t support Freedom of Speech … if it’s not their kind of Freedom of Speech, that is.

Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey

Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey

The article is about how government contractors are giving political donations to New Jersey’s Governor Christie through an association he’s managing, not directly to his campaign. Here’s what they said:

Not a single check was written to Mr. Christie’s campaign. Indeed, some of those in attendance were legally prohibited from doing so, because they had sizable contracts with state agencies and were therefore barred by New Jersey law from making large contributions to the governor.

Instead, the donors wrote checks for as much as $100,000 to the Republican Governors Association, an organization Mr. Christie helps lead that has collected $1.65 million from New Jersey donors during the first six months of the year.

The association has, in turn, poured $1.7 million into Mr. Christie’s re-election effort, with television advertisements attacking State Senator Barbara Buono, his Democratic opponent in the election this year.

Mr. Christie’s close relationship with the association provides a playbook for how carefully choreographed independent spending campaigns can undermine the rules meant to curtail the political influence of government contractors; New Jersey’s pay-to-play law strictly limits the participation of state contractors in political giving.

Perhaps the New Jersey lawmakers don’t like the Supreme Court decision, but that decision pointedly affirmed the right of corporations to engage in political speech. From the Harvard Law Review:

The Supreme Court spoke clearly this Term on the issue of corporate political speech, concluding in Citizens United v. FEC that the First Amendment protects corporations’ freedom to spend corporate funds on indirect support of political candidates. Constitutional law scholars will long debate the wisdom of that holding, as do the authors of the two other Comments in this issue. In contrast, this Comment accepts as given that corporations may not be limited from spending money on politics should they decide to speak.

And that’s about perfect. Debate is healthy. You can disagree with the Supreme Court ruling. But, it is the law of the land.

To showcase politicians that you don’t agree with as engaging in shady, against-the-law practices that are legal is just preaching sour grapes. The Times doesn’t say that Christie is breaking the law. The article even says that his opponent is using the same funding mechanism. However, it’s clear that the Times is against the practice and implies that the Governor is doing fund raising against the laws of New Jersey.

Which he’s not, as New Jersey in all of its power cannot make free speech illegal. Not even in New Jersey.

Note: none of this should be construed as support for or posturing against Governor Christie or his opponent. I’m not commenting on New Jersey politics, just on the right of people and corporations in New Jersey to have Freedom of Speech. Hopefully, the New York Times will soon join me in supporting this philosophy.


Harvard Law Review: Corporate Political Speech: Who Decides?

New York Times: Donors Funds Sidestep Law, Aiding Christie

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