Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
From Websters online dictionary...
Main Entry: abridge
Function: transitive verb
Inflected Form(s): abridged; abridg·ing
Etymology: Middle English abregen, from Middle French abregier, from Late Latin abbreviare, from Latin ad- + brevis short -- more at BRIEF
1 a archaic : DEPRIVE b : to reduce in scope : DIMINISH (attempts to abridge the right of free speech)
2 : to shorten in duration or extent (modern transportation that abridges distance)
3 : to shorten by omission of words without sacrifice of sense
Do you see that? Websters uses the First Amendment as a reference point for the definition of "abridge." Doesn't that say something about how plain this should be, especially those who are tasked with supporting, upholding, and protecting the Constitution?
I have rarely read anything that has made me so angry as this editorial today on the Wall Street Journal Opinion Journal online.
George Will has been banging this drum from day one of McCain-Feingold. And while I understood what he was saying, it never quite hit me like this piece did today.
The piece by Brian C. Anderson (author of South Park Conservatives) is long, but well worth the read. It's information that everyone needs to know and understand.
Most of the column is about the push McCain-Feingold gets from the left. While that is infuriating to me, I understand it. They can't win elections lately with their ideas, so they want to stifle the information going to voters. Fine, dirty play, but that's politics. I think the worst part of all this is that George Bush didn't veto this damn bill when he had the chance. Apparently he expected the Supreme Court to overturn it and wanted to avoid a fight with John McCain. Are you freakin' serious? I go back to the FIRST Amendment. First First First! They didn't say "here are the amendments to the Constitution, in no particular order." They put it first for a reason. Congress shall make no law ... abridging the freedom of speech... I'm sorry, do I not understand what the McCain-Feingold Bill is. Isn't it a law made by Congress, and doesn't it abridge the freedom of speech? And, when the founding fathers wrote this, they were talking specifically about political speech, which is exactly what this bill outlaws. That is worth fighting for, even if there are supporters in your own damn political party. And not only did our president sign it after admitting it is unconstitutional (no really, he did), but then the Supreme Court - defenders of the Constitution in the face of assaults by Congress - upheld it, too.
Clarence Thomas and the three other justices who voted along with him in the first challenge to McCain-Feingold had it right.
In his powerful McConnell dissent, Justice Thomas spelled out "the chilling endpoint" of the court's reasoning: "outright regulation of the press"--exactly what the campaign-reform theorists ultimately seek. "Media companies can run pro-candidate editorials as easily as nonmedia corporations can pay for advertisements," Justice Thomas explained. "Media corporations are influential. There is little doubt that the editorials and commentary they run can affect elections." The Supreme Court has found little to distinguish media and nonmedia corporations. Asked Justice Thomas: "What is to stop a future Congress from determining that the press is 'too influential,' and that the 'appearance of corruption' is significant when media organizations endorse candidates or run 'slanted' or 'biased' news stories in favor of candidates or parties?" Answer: Nothing. "Although today's opinion does not expressly strip the press of First Amendment protection," Justice Thomas warned, "there is no principle of law or logic that would prevent the application of the Court's reasoning in that setting. The press now operates at the whim of Congress."
But there were only four of them. There should have been nine. And so far, there's no telling how the new court will look upon this. I'm not holding out hope, based on what I've heard so far.
Just like I don't want to hear that the Republicans are the party of small government until they actually act like it, I do not ever again want to hear that Democrats are the party of freedom. That's just absolute BS. They are for freedom to express their own ideas, but not those of anyone with whom they disagree. Simply look at the speech codes on any college campus. Simply try to say that you do not approve of someone's choices (not that they don't have a right to make those choices, but only that you disagree), and you are engaged in hate speech - which is a punishable offense.
But, this is all about avoiding corruption in politics, not free speech? Well, if avoiding corruption (perceived corruption, mind you) means voiding the very first amendment to our Constitution, then the method they've chosen to use to avoid corruption is unconstitutional. But that doesn't matter, really, since they don't agree with the speech, and someone may have more influence than another by virtue of their ability to communicate their ideas. In their eyes are all equal and should have absolutely equal influence on the political process. Nevermind that it's an impossibility, we'll do everything we can to make it happen. It's their Utopia. That already didn't work, but they'll keep trying.
To eradicate "corruption," leading theorists of campaign-finance reform, such as Ohio State University law professor (and former Ohio state solicitor) Edward Foley, Loyola law prof Richard Hasen, and radical redistributionist philosopher Ronald Dworkin, want to replace privately financed campaigns with a system in which government would guarantee "equal dollars per voter," as Foley puts it, perhaps by giving all Americans the same number of political "coupons," which they could then redeem on the political activities of their choice. This superpowerful government would ban all other political expenditures and require all political groups to get operating licenses from it, with stiff criminal penalties for violators. The experts have even started calling for draconian media restrictions to achieve their egalitarian aims. In Foley's view, the chilling of speech is "the necessary price we must pay in order to have an electoral system that guarantees equal opportunity for all." But when these experts pen law-review articles with titles like "Campaign Finance Laws and the Rupert Murdoch Problem," you know it isn't the New York Times or CBS News that they have in mind.
Again, please read Amendment I.
Now they want to include the internet as an avenue of political speech to be regulated by the Federal Election Commission (bloggers beware).
Liberal reform groups like Democracy 21 say no. "We do not believe anyone described as a 'blogger' is by definition entitled to the benefit of the press exemption," they collectively sniffed in a brief to the FEC. "While some bloggers may provide a function very similar to more classical media activities, and thus could reasonably be said to fall within the exemption, others surely do not." The key test, the groups claimed, should be whether the blogger is performing a "legitimate press function." But who decides what is legitimate? And what in the Constitution gives him the authority to do so?
Political radio is also a target. As usual, not able to win with their ideas, they'll just change the rules of the game like a seven year-old brat at recess.
What's scary about this is there seems to be no stopping it. Not only will the president sign an unconstitutional law and the Supreme Court uphold it, these rules they have imposed, and seek to expand, make it more and more difficult for political upstarts to get their ideas out and, therefore, get elected. This ensures that the sleazy politicians who voted for these regulations will stay in office. They are gerrymandering the Constitution.