Conspiring to block political free speech

Back in 1963, one Ernesto Arturo Miranda was arrested for robbery in Arizona. While in custody he confessed to raping an 18-year-old woman two days before his arrest. He was convicted on the more serious charge.

But in 1966 the Supreme Court, led by Chief Justice Earl Warren, threw out the confession — and with it the conviction — holding that Miranda’s questioning had been coercive, and that he had not been specifically advised that he had a right to remain silent until he had talked to a lawyer.

Miranda was later convicted in a new trial, anyway. But police all across America were left puzzled and amazed by a newly discovered “right” that no one had known about for the first 177 years of the republic’s history — the right of newly arrested suspects to have their confessions thrown out unless they had been “read their Miranda rights” before being asked “Did you do it?”

Did the cops noisily demand new legislation, “narrowing” and seeking to do end-runs around the high court’s ruling?

Not so much. Scratching their heads, America’s police chiefs printed up little “Miranda rights” warning cards, handed them out to their officers, and everybody got back to work, whether they thought it was dumb or not.

Fast forward 44 years. In a 5-to-4 decision — after hearing government attorneys agree that the McCain-Feingold federal campaign finance law meant even political books could be banned from publication during the 90 days before an election — the U.S. Supreme Court on Jan. 21 ruled the words “Congress shall make no law” mean what they say, holding in the “Citizens United” case that corporations have a right to political speech, that they can spend money supporting or opposing individual candidates.

Domestic corporations remain barred from using corporate treasuries to make direct donations to candidates — they have to contribute to “PACs.” Foreign corporations remain barred from contributing to American campaigns, at all.

So the majority Democrats in Congress scratched their heads in puzzlement, but agreed “Oh well, the law’s the law; there’s nothing we can do.” Right?

Um … no.

Democrats have been braying like wounded hounds, actually. During his State of the Union address, President Obama said the ruling would “open the floodgates for special interests, including foreign corporations, to spend without limit in our elections.” Even though that’s not true.

Now, Democratic congressional leaders have unveiled proposals intended to “limit the impact of a Supreme Court decision allowing unfettered corporate spending on political campaigns,” The Washington Post reports.

And shockingly, these measures seem to be wining support from major American (left-wing, if that’s not redundant) newspapers — even though the exemption which allows newspaper corporations to violate McCain-Feingold by endorsing candidates in the 90 days before an election could be swept aside by the Congress in an hour by a simple majority vote.

Sen. Charles Schumer of New York and Rep. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland called Thursday for a ban on participation in U.S. elections by companies with more than 20 percent foreign ownership, government contractors and bank bailout recipients.

Which means they’d be barred from “uttering a word during election campaigns,” apparently.

(They didn’t include every company that deducts business lunches on their taxes, though they’ll think of it eventually. And why 20 percent? Why not 2 percent?)

The Democratic scofflaws also want to require companies to inform shareholders about political spending, and to mandate that corporate chief executives must appear in any political advertising funded by their companies.

No word yet on whether the CEOs would be required to wear clown shoes, funny noses, and red fright wigs.

Democratic lawmakers said Thursday they’re still considering whether to demand specific shareholder approval for each campaign spending allocation.

“If we don’t act quickly, the court’s ruling will have an immediate and disastrous impact on the 2010 elections,” said Sen. Schumer, explaining why he has no intention of simply advising people to respect the First Amendment and its right to free speech, in compliance with the high court’s ruling.

Now, maybe a single vote of the U.S. Supreme Court shouldn’t be the final word on what’s constitutional. Alternatives can always be discussed. But imagine, for a moment, the Democratic response should a Republican majority ever declare they were planning to enact laws to “limit the impact” of the Miranda ruling, the Roe v. Wade abortion decision, or any number of other court edicts whose results are held in reverence by liberal Democrats … whether or not they could ever have won majority popular support.

If the CEO can be arbitrarily ordered to appear in every corporate ad, for example, why couldn’t anti-abortion activists “fine-tune” Roe v. Wade by declaring any woman is free to seek an abortion — but that her life-size photo must appear that week in her local newspaper, labeled “infamous slut” … at her own expense?

That would surely fit Bill Clinton’s prescription, leaving abortions “safe and legal” while making them considerably more “rare” … wouldn’t it? How could Democrats object?

Because when it says “Congress shall make no law,” or “The right of the people … shall not be infringed,” it really means “Congress may impose any and all the ‘reasonable restrictions’ it sees fit to discourage this behavior” … right?

3 Comments to “Conspiring to block political free speech”

  1. Happy Valentine's Day, Obama: Some Dems “seek permission” to … Says:

    […] Vin Suprynowicz » Blog Archive » Conspiring to block political … […]

  2. Durk Pearson Says:

    Golly, do you suppose that those guys who wrote and ratified the US Constitution actually thought that “no” meant “some”?

    I think it very unlikely; they didn’t have government run primary schools and teachers unions back in those days…

  3. M. Taylor Says:

    The rub of it all is that the left believes, despite all their clamoring and rhetoric, in the rule of man while those on the right believe in rule of law. Their relationion ship with the rule of law is simply one of convenience. The left believes that anything they find too morally or emotionally repugnant should be subject to the override of any existing law or fundamental human right. How else could they justify violating the most pivotal of all democratic rights, private property, by inequitable taxation on those who have legally earned it.

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