Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Today's Supreme Court Case Can Help Restore the 1st Amendment

RNLA First Vice President for Judicial Affairs John Ryder is also the RNC General Counsel.  On today’s big election law case McCutcheon v. FEC he wrote: 

In this case, the RNC and Shaun McCutcheon of Alabama argue that the aggregate limits are unconstitutional. The Supreme Court has been crystal clear that political donations are protected under the First Amendment. Under Supreme Court precedent, speech through contributions can only be curtailed to combat quid pro quo “corruption or its appearance.” Aggregate limits do no such thing. Allowing Americans to exercise their First Amendment freedoms to donate to as many candidates as they wish does not create “corruption or its appearance.”

John goes on to explain the importance of political parties: 

One shouldn’t discount the importance of strong, accountable parties and campaigns. Parties have the ability to bring disparate groups together, to unite factions and to find common ground. As Justice Sandra Day O’Connor said, “There can be little doubt that the emergence of a strong and stable two-party system in this country has contributed enormously to sound and effective government. The preservation and health of our political institutions…depend to no small extent on the continued vitality of our two party system.”

The current campaign finance laws have hurt the parties but as John explains they have not stopped the money in politics. 

The outcome of this case will not change the amount of money in politics. But it could affect where that money flows. Any law that distorts political speech not only tramples on political liberty but also damages the way republican government works. Current finance laws dramatically limit our political parties, and as any American can tell you, the last decade has produced a more divided politics.

This distortion of speech and money flow has ironically led to the opposite of the result that so called reformers desire. 

In politics, money is like water. It will flow through the least restricted channel. If you put aggregate limits on committee and candidate contributions, the rest of the money will flow to groups which can take unlimited contributions—SuperPACs and the like. The limits do not stop the flow; they only redirect it.

Today the Supreme Court has the opportunity to bring some sanity back to the system and to restore the first amendment.     

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