Money, Speech, & Bullshit

Conservatives and Liberals can disagree, and genuinely believe that their own points of view are valid. But more and more I’m coming to believe that most conservative points of view are lies that conservatives tell themselves to justify doing what they know is wrong. It’s like telling yourself that ice cream is healthy because it is made out of milk. It’s like a bully complaining that a nerd’s face keeps hitting his fist.

The McCutcheon decision is bullshit. The idea that money is speech is bullshit. I have a right to express my opinions, but the First Amendment doesn’t guarantee every method available for doing so. The First Amendment doesn’t guarantee my right to shout my opinions louder than local noise ordinances permit, or to paint my opinions on the sides of public buildings. Megaphones are not speech. Neither is spray paint. Neither is money.

The Supreme Court has often ruled that speech can be restricted for valid reasons. When you consider all of the restrictions on speech that exist despite First Amendment protections, such as restrictions against libeling, threatening, talking about classified information, or amplifying your voice above certain volumes, it’s absurd that that something which can only be considered speech in a highly metaphoric application of the word has more protection than actual speech does.

In the National Law Journal, James Copeland compared limits on campaign spending to limits on legal defense, or to telling people that they can’t spend money on abortions (apparently referencing Eugene Volokh but I can’t find the original). Do Mr. Copeland or Mr. Volokh, both men much more knowledgeable than I am, even think such analogies make sense? I could spend all the money I have on legal defense and still not match the resources available for my prosecution. And I can’t even grasp enough of a correlation between campaign finance and abortion spending to criticize the analogy.

With patriotic language about how the government shouldn’t restrict access to the political process, the Supreme Court restricted access for millions of ordinary people. This was the same court that overturned the Voting Rights Act, telling us that our country no longer requires such protections, because it has “changed”. And it was just one large step in a march to eliminate the voice of the people completely. In the past several years, the Supreme Court has used bullshit logic to reverse over a century of progress toward making the First Amendment meaningful to ordinary citizens. And it will continue to do so until we replace at least one conservative justice with one who will start with the law and reason outward, rather than start with ideology and interpret the law accordingly.

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