Campaign finance laws vs. free speech

Regarding the September 18 Supreme Court decision on EMILY’s List vs. the Federal Election Commission, I wrote in the September 12 Boulder Daily Camera:

Campaign finance laws should be abolished. They violate each individual’s right to express political opinions, as recognized by the First Amendment. The argument that such censorship is needed for a functioning democracy inverts the proper relationship between citizens and government. Government should enforce laws that respect individual rights. Citizens should not sacrifice their rights on the altar of a “healthy democracy.” People do not exist for the sake of the State.

If you do not mind empowering government to censor certain political speech, where does it stop? If government can censor televised issue ads, then why not prohibit the same ads broadcast on YouTube? After all, it takes money to make a well-produced video. Or how about the same message published in a newspaper, or as a pamphlet or book?

Institute for Justice Senior Attorney Steve Simpson sums up the issue well: “It’s not the government’s job to protect us from ideas, even those backed by people and groups with great resources, good ideas or other tools of persuasion. People either agree with speech or they do not, but they are able to make up their own minds. The Court should open the floodgates to speech and let the people decide.”


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