Today, the Supreme Court hears further arguments on the case of a political film, "Hillary: The Movie", that the Federal Election Commission blocked from airing on TV because the FEC believed it violated the campaign finance restrictions of McCain-Feingold. The New York Times reports that:
A lower court agreed with the F.E.C.’s position, saying that the sole purpose of the documentary was “to inform the electorate that Senator Clinton is unfit for office, that the United States would be a dangerous place in a President Hillary Clinton world and that viewers should vote against her.”
That's right. It is apparently illegal to "inform the electorate" about a candidate's fitness for office ... if you are a corporation or use corporate money to inform the electorate within 30 days of an election. The film was made by a non-profit corporation, Citizen's United, and thus ran afoul of McCain-Feingold. The Court already heard arguments on the case earlier this year. The Times explains why the Court took the unusual step of scheduling a second round of arguments:
At the first Supreme Court argument in March, a government lawyer, answering a hypothetical question, said the government could also make it a crime to distribute books advocating the election or defeat of political candidates so long as they were paid for by corporations and not their political action committees. That position seemed to astound several of the more conservative justices, and there were gasps in the courtroom.
The Institute for Justice, which filed a brief in support of Citizens United, issued a press release listing ten books that the government could ban if the Supreme Court agrees with their reasoning. IJ attorney Steve Simpson says, “Every one of these books takes a position on a candidate’s qualifications for office...and every one was published by a corporation.”
Here are the first three:
1. Dude, Where’s My Country?, Michael Moore, 2003 (“There is probably no greater imperative facing the nation than the defeat of George W. Bush in the 2004 election.”)
2. Bush Must Go, Bill Press, 2004 (“If you need any ammunition for voting against George Bush, here they are: the top ten reasons why George Bush must be denied a second term.”)
3. My Dad, John McCain, Meghan McCain, 2008 (“There are a few things you need to know about my dad, and one of them is that he would make a great president.”)
No wonder the Supreme Court called for a second round of arguments. I hope the Supremes reprimand Senators McCain, Feingold, and other arrogant legislators for their assault on free speech.
As I've reported in the past, campaign finance "reform" like McCain-Feingold does little more than give bureaucrats the power to decide which kind of political speech is acceptable:
- Pre-October 2009