Heed this warning, please, all of you naive proponents of the Voter Rights Act! The conservatives on the Supreme Court will not hesitate to repeal as much of the act as possible! The lack of understanding endemic in the ranks of liberals, from my beloved Bernie Sanders to the left wing of the Supreme Court, may end up destroying the the very essence of the voter franchise. The valiant attempt by Senators McCain and Feingold to protect the system from mega corporate control was, like much of our civil rights legislation, slightly flawed from the start. It was no accident that the ACLU, for example, was reluctantly drawn into the controversy of the Citizens United case.
By authoring a law that purposely “abridged the freedom of speech” of corporations in direct contradiction to the directive in the First Amendment not to “abridge freedom of speech,” the Senators were literally begging for a challenge, if not on the basis of the First Amendment, then based on the conservatives’ interpretation of the Fourteenth Amendment. While the question of whether “corporations” are “people” or not, may be appropriate to ask in the context of deserving “equal protection,” it is clearly not appropriate with regard to the right (as opposed to their right) to freedom of speech. The First Amendment purposely guarantees the absolute right of any entity that speaks to be able to speak, as long the speaker does not yell “fire” in a theatre or some such obvious exception.
The foolish and undignified attempt by liberal justices to divert attention from the clear intent of the First Amendment to the inappropriate and irrelevant issue of “personhood” for corporations proved to be their undoing. Instead of identifying very large contributions to a candidate, whether soft (actually involving freedom of speech and the actual basis for the entire Citizens United case) or hard, as potential bribes, liberal justices permitted Scalia and his henchmen to refer to political donations as tokens of free speech. They even allowed the bogus claim that it is the fact that the donor agrees with the candidate that qualifies the “gift” as “speech.” Instead of asking: “Does it matter if the agreement is before or after the multi million dollar bribe?” liberals tried to cheat corporations out of the right of free speech. Talk about “cutting off the nose to spite the face;” shame on you, liberal supreme court justices.
Meanwhile, so far, what the incompetent and clearly Republican leaning Justice Department and the President’s even more incompetent lawyers as well as the liberal justices can’t seem to see, despite their noses no longer being in the way, is that the conservative justices may have inadvertently saved the voter franchise by trying to destroy it. Ironically, in declaring political donations, in a five to four vote, as “freedom of speech,” the court has effectively declared unanimously that voting is an expression of “freedom of speech” as well! What better way is there to proclaim one’s agreement with a candidate than by actually voting for the person? Thus the Republicans’ global attack on voter rights is, in actuality, an attack on freedom of speech, a right clearly not to be “abridged” by laws making it so much harder for certain citizens to freely “express themselves.” If slumbering Democrats and moderate Republicans continue to underestimate the immense difficulty in crafting Constitutionally sound campaign legislation, blaming their failure totally on the biased Supreme Court, I shudder to think what their reaction will be when the same court finds a way to overturn poorly crafted civil rights legislation.
Al Finkelstein 10/6/12