1st Amendment Scores Another Victory

Aaron Flint posted on October 19, 2010 08:08 :: 942 Views

Here we are once again finding ourselves in another election campaign season.  The corporate-owned newspapers will, and already have been, pushing their political agenda and the candidates they support through editorial endorsements and potentially tilted news coverage.  Of course, the free speech rights of these corporate-owned newspapers has been protected, as it should, for years.  

But other corporations have said, “Hey, wait a minute.  We want to be able to offer up our own editorials too.”  And much as a newspaper has to buy printing presses, pay for staff, and spend large sums of money to stay in business and get their editorial endorsements seen and heard- another corporation or group of individuals wanting to do the same must also be able to spend money.  

That can now happen in Montana, as Chuck Johnson reports in The Helena Independent Record:

Sherlock said that the state ban on direct corporate political spending, “insofar as it prevents corporations from making independent expenditures to support or oppose political candidates or political parties, is declared unconstitutional.”

The Helena judge said he agreed with the reasoning of U.S. District Judge Paul Magnuson, who found a similar ban in Minnesota unconstitutional. Magnuson said the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United “is unequivocal: the government may not prohibit independent and indirect corporate expenditures on political speech.”

One of the organizations backing the challenge to Montana’s campaign finance law had this to say:

“The First Amendment was intended to protect citizens from the government, not to shield politicians from criticism,” said Donald Ferguson, Western Tradition Partnership’s executive director. “The court has restored fairness and balance to elections by allowing employers to speak freely about the radical environmentalist candidates and issues that threaten your right to earn a living.”

So whether its an endorsement of a candidate in one of the Lee Newspapers here in Montana, or multi-million dollar film pushing political propaganda in Hollywood, one thing is now clear:  the rest of the country has the same protected free speech rights they do. 

For those of you who still think the sky is falling when it comes to campaign spending, see George Will’s latest column:

Total spending, by all parties, campaigns and issue-advocacy groups, concerning every office from county clerks to U.S. senators, may reach a record $4.2 billion in this two-year cycle. That is about what Americans spend in one year on yogurt, but less than they spend on candy in two Halloween seasons. Proctor & Gamble spent $8.6 billion on advertising in its most recent fiscal year.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *