Sunday, August 30, 2009

A Level Playing Field

The Supreme Court has scheduled a matter for rehearing before the beginning of the new term which suggests that judicial activism at its very worst is in play among the conservatives on the bench. At issue in the case is whether a short film about Hillary Clinton funded by a corporate interest group is constitutionally protected freedom of speech or permissibly banned by the McCain-Feingold Act. Congress, in passage of that Act, determined that the potential influence of corporate campaign expenditures on the outcome of elections is so pervasive that limitations were appropriate and constitutionally acceptable.

It is clear that there are two fundamental issues squared off against each other that are at the very heart of our society; freedom of speech and taint-free elections. It must be remembered that, although corporations are treated like individuals in our society, they should be limited in the arena of campaign corporations because of the potential economically-disparate impact their activities may have on the outcome of elections. Even individual citizens have long been limited to dollar amount contributions because it has been recognized that wealth should not be a determining factor in the outcome of elections. For a corporate entity to use money to produce a documentary that is obviously intended to influence the outcome of an election is the de facto equivalent of a campaign contribution.

Why the Supreme Court has chosen to have this matter re-argued is anybody’s guess, but the implication is clear; the conservative majority on the bench feels disenfranchised by the current administration and is headed toward approving corporate involvement in politics on a scale that will ensure victorious Republican outcomes in the future. Instead, what we need is affirmation of McCain-Feingold and continuation of a level playing field. Without taint-free elections, freedom of speech concerns would be illusory.

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