Letters to the Editor
Readers write about free speech, healthcare deals, and the death penalty
Freedom of speech?
Regarding the Feb. 7 US News Briefing, "Campaign funding: What happens now?": The Supreme Court's recent decision finding aspects of government control of campaign speech unconstitutional was a victory for freedom and for the First Amendment.
The decision struck down the government's attempt to outlaw speech about political candidates by nonprofit organizations such as the Sierra Club, National Right to Life, and Trout Unlimited, as well as for-profit corporations and labor unions.
Until this decision, it was criminal for these organizations (or us as individuals) to run a television ad informing citizens of a candidate's record.
The First Amendment does not exist simply so you and I have a theoretical ability to speak out, but also so that we may hear and read what others have to say.
The right to speak has the purpose of ensuring an informed electorate. This is what the "marketplace of ideas" is all about, and why silencing voices, from any source, is so insidious: It limits the marketplace to particular ideas from particular people.
Not many would call a "level playing field" one that allows newspapers and television newscasters to endorse and criticize candidates, but threatens a non-profit organization like the Sierra Club or labor unions with criminal sanctions if it dares to do the same thing.