"Money = Speech" Doctrine; ACLU Being Asshats
* NOTE: I am a member of the ACLU *
Every once in a while, the American Civil Liberties Union finds itself defending some form of speech that's so repulsive (think: KKK, etc.) that I'm forced to pinch myself and repeat the "I wholeheartedly reject your stupid argument, but I'll continue to defend your right to present your stupid argument" mantra.
This is not one of those times.
In an April 29th, 2006 article, ReclaimDemocracy.org writer Jeffrey Kaplan notes that the ACLU is cockpunching [my description, not Kaplan's] Vermont's right to govern itself by:
"... attacking a Vermont law that limits contributions to political candidates and candidate spending in state elections. In a case now being considered by the U.S. Supreme Court, (Randall v. Sorrell) the ACLU argued the law conflicts with the infamous "money equals speech" doctrine first promulgated by the Court in its 1975 Buckley v. Valeo ruling."
(Those totally unfamiliar with the Buckley ruling (which actually upheld federal limits on campaign contributions, but gave us the "money equals speech" doctrine) can head over to this Wiki entry for a quick primer.)
As Kaplan notes, the "money equals speech" doctrine is completely silly - and fundamentally flawed - because it ignores:
"... the fact that there is a profound difference between who we are (human beings with an inalienable right to self-expression) and what we may possess (money or other forms of property)."
Ok... Lemme jump back to my gripe:
The ACLU, by supporting this doctrine, is in fact contradicting its own declaration which states that "If the rights of society's most vulnerable members are denied, everybody's rights are imperiled." It's very simple -- money influences the election process, so... people with less money have less influence. Until citizens become, essentially, incredibly wise, there's no getting around that bugaboo -- voters are swayed by the candidates that get the most coverage, and the most money buys the most coverage. The net result is that those with the most money can drown out those who are best at governing.
Kaplan best summarizes the situation here:
"In view of its ongoing denial of political reality, the ACLU's position that the "power, even of a democratic majority, must be limited to ensure individual rights" is replete with irony. In this instance, what the ACLU is ensuring is the "right" of the moneyed minority to exercise political power commensurate with its wealth."
I could go on, but I don't want to spoil the read. Well, that plus and reprinting everything gives me a migraine. Oh - I didn't really proofread this... cut me some slack... it's Sunday nite and I'm really only concentrating on eating a gigantic handful of delicious "real fruit pectin" jellybeans.
... psst! check out the rest of the site, too...
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