Freedom of Speech Wins the Day

eyeglasses and newspaper blue background

On April 2, the United States Supreme Court affirmed that the First Amendment right to free speech extends to political contributions. [1] In McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, five of the court’s nine judges agreed to overturn aggregate limits on campaign contributions. In other words, caps on the total amount of money one person can give to campaigns, PACs and parties, are now unconstitutional. The ruling marks the biggest victory for political free speech since 2010’s Citizens United decision.

In his opinion, Chief Justice John Roberts argued that aggregate limits don’t prevent corruption. “This Court has identified only one legitimate governmental interest for restricting campaign finances: preventing corruption or the appearance of corruption,” Roberts wrote. “[…] No matter how desirable it may seem, it is not an acceptable governmental objective to ‘level the playing field,’ or to ‘level electoral opportunities,’ or to ‘equalize the financial resources of candidates…’ The First Amendment prohibits such legislative attempts to ‘fine-tune’ the electoral process, no matter how well intentioned.” [2]

Not surprisingly, the Court’s deference to free speech received significant backlash from the left. [3] The attacks, however, are consistent with the left’s approach to the First Amendment. [4] Whether it’s turning a blind eye to IRS abuse that infringes on the right of free speech, or championing limits on free speech by way of contribution caps, the left selectively trumpets or misrepresents the First Amendment in an attempt to silence the voices of those they disagree with.

Tea Party Patriots knows firsthand what can happen with the federal government starts undermining the First Amendment: law-abiding citizens are silenced. Warnings from the left – that the U.S. is returning to “the days of the robber barons,” and becoming a “government of the money” are based in alarmism and hysteria, not facts. We’ve seen two whole election cycles since the Citizens United decision, and not one race was bought and paid for by some millionaire sitting in a mansion.

We believe that the preservation of freedom and liberty should be the only standard by which to judge government policy. Caps on political contributions don’t preserve liberty, they hinder it. Those on the left say they’re just defending democracy. It’s time for them to put their money where their mouth is.