I didn’t have much to say about the recent Supreme Court ruling on campaign finance reform. It’s something I’ve been on about for so long that I’ve just grown tired. I agree with Spoons that this will be a historic ruling, on par with the two decisions that made the Commerce Clause all encompassing and allowed the New Deal to subvert our government.
Like the Commerce Clause decisions, this one of itself doesn’t change all that much. As Mickey Kaus point out, non-incorporated organizations can still spend money on politics. However, he seems to miss the point that once Congress can regulate some political speech, the Supreme Court isn’t really involved anymore, it’s all up to Congress. David Cohen and Justice Thomas see clearly (as Hayek did with regard to state intervention) that once regulation is permitted it spreads like ink in water, expanding at the edges until it’s everywhere.
This will be a stain on President Bush’s record that he signed this legislation, hoping that the Supreme Court would shield him from that. On this, I can understand (not agree or condone, just understand) the Supreme Courts frustration with Presidents and Congresses who barely bother to hide their disdain for doing their duty to the Constitution and simply fling legislation over the wall for the Judicial branch to clean up. I’d say that I hope a Republican victory in November will enable the appointment of Justices who will reverse this odious precedent, but they’ll be nominated by the guy who signed the thing in the first place, won’t they? Moreover, that won’t address the root cause of the dereliction of duty by the Legislative and Executive branches.
If Bush wants to recover some reputation on the domestic front, he could go in to the presidential campaign on this issue, with illustrations of how the legislation not only doesn’t stop the money, but how it endangers our liberty and silences the citizens. What a wonderful way to play out an assault on Big Government, by describing the forms and procedures a citizen needs in order to speak out politically. What can the other side say, “we think it’s a good idea to be able to toss citizens in jail for illegal campaigning”? I live in hope but very little expectation.
P.S. Here’s a round up of other comments on this issue.