THE FIRST AMENDMENT PROTECTS SPEECH, NOT PURCHASE

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^ protesting the purchase of our democracy : St Senator Jamie Eldridge and Common Cause chairperson Pam Wilmot (both on right) at the state House yesterday

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Yesterday the Supreme Court, by its usual 5 to 4 vote, decided that “participation in the political process” means allowing the very rich to buy the process. We vigorously disagree,

Money is NOT speech. It only BUYS speech. There is no word in the First Amendment about buying speech. The First Amendment protects such speech as is spoken (with a few exceptions that do not apply here) and that is all.

Anybody is free to speak out, on political matters above all. Anyone is free to publish. Anyone is free to advertise. That is all.
In political campiagns, speech gets printed or it gets broadcast. Printing and broascast, however, are businesses; and businesses have to charge those who buy space or time, because revenue from advertising is how media pay their costs. Obviously if a political campaign cannot pay for print or broadcast, its speech isn’t going to heard by many.

Thus there is room to accord campaigns legal authority to raise enough money to get their speech printed or broadcast. And to grant the same authority to interest groups advocating an issue. The question is, what kind of authority can we grant ?
It seems obvious to us that the authority to raise money cannot be open-ended, because if it is, then those who have lots of money to donate can hugely overtalk those who don’t have a lot of money. And there can never be any reason whatsoever, in a democracy, to permit anyone legal authority to overtalk anyone else. All voices must be accorded equal access to print and broadcast.

To allow otherwise is to sanction oligarchy. this we can never do.

Five justices of the Supreme Court seem not to understand the difference between speech and purchase.

Overturning the McCutcheon decision — and Citizens United as well — by constitutional amendment won’t happen. If it could have been done — and so far it couldn’t — it is impossible now, for the plutocrats now have open season to buy a majority of Congress.

Pushing for an amendment is worthy, as a protest; more doable is to elect a democratic president in 2016, ensure eventually a different Supreme Court majority, and overrule two decisions which, if allowed to stand, will end American democracy as we know it.

Do I alarm you ? i intend to. we have already seen what a plutocratic, purchased Republican party is capable of doing to the economy and society as a minority party. Imagine what the country will be like if the purchased party takes the presidency. There will be oligarchy, or a revolution. Do you want to see either of these happen ? We don’t.

—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere

Author: hereandsphere

Here and Sphere is an online journal of news, opinion, reviews, advice, & bits n' pieces of everything else - from HERE to SPHERE...... Co-founded by Michael Freedberg, a long-time Boston Phoenix journalist, and Heather Cornell, a South Coast Massachusetts columnist and editor.

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