Supreme Court has limited political speech to the wealthy few

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  • Flashback Kearns, UT
    April 8, 2014 7:43 a.m.

    Money equates to power. Those that have it want it. One way to start to lower that influence would be to amend the Constitution to make the House of Representatives elections every four years instead of every two. That would mean they could actually work instead of spending one year at work that the other year running for re-election/raising money.

    As a result of this decision the Congress has to put into place some very draconian reporting rules with hard and fast penalties for abuse (think John Swallow).

    BTW the major crowing about this issue is being done by Democrats/Liberals/Progressives.

    Another idea, cut back the election season. Especially for the President.

  • Flashback Kearns, UT
    April 8, 2014 7:32 a.m.

    Larry, how about your buddy Soros doing everything that he can to corrupt the system and buy candidates? You forgot about him.

  • RBB Sandy, UT
    April 6, 2014 11:56 a.m.

    What is particularly concerning about the Supreme Court's opinion is that it allows individuals to express their views. This is of particular concern because it reduces the ability of the media to skew public opinion for or against a candidate, proposition, etc. I can see why a newspaper is concerned. The owner of a newspaper, radio station, etc., should be able to push a candidate, but a person who wants to spend their money to take a contrary view should not be able. Apparently when it comes to first amendment animals, some animals are more equal than others.

  • Mister J Salt Lake City, UT
    April 5, 2014 4:05 p.m.

    re: Mike Richards

    "Who should determine how citizens spend their own money?... Either we have the right speak or we don't. It's an all or nothing thing. Our Creator endowed us with unalienable rights - including the right to speak our mind without government censorship."

    I can see how SCOTUS might get involved when it comes to politics just to keep some balaence and equity in the system.

    I'm fairly certain the unalienable rights are Life, Liberty, & Pursuit of Happiness. If you don't like something be it government or business then vote with your wallet.

    to Open Minded Mormon early this morning

    I disagree. Life in 21st Century America is more like Brave New World than 1984. If we are going to compare to a dystopian setting then my vote is V for Vendetta.

  • Twin Lights Louisville, KY
    April 4, 2014 10:54 p.m.

    Speech is good. Money is speech. So money is good. More money means more good.

    Because money is good it must be a wonderful influence on our political class. It surely makes them more responsive to their Average Joe constituents, less likely to commit ethical errors, and preserves them from undue influence by the few. It just makes them better people all around.

    Thank goodness for money in politics. It will surely save our republic.

  • anotherview SLO, CA
    April 4, 2014 1:13 p.m.

    Here's a sobering fact:

    Politico reported:

    "The total number of dollars spent on the 2012 election exceeded the number of people on this planet.
    About $7 billion was spent by candidates, parties and outside groups on the 2012 election – beating even the unprecedented expected total of $6 billion, according to a review of campaign finance reports by the Federal Election Commission."

  • Esquire Springville, UT
    April 4, 2014 1:04 p.m.

    @ Mike Richards, the Constitution is indeed the surpreme law of the land. How it is interpreted and applied is the issue.

  • Esquire Springville, UT
    April 4, 2014 1:02 p.m.

    This piece is brilliant, well written and well reasoned. I would hope that the editorial board of this paper pays close attention and stop parroting right wing propaganda. The biggest threat to our freedom is coming from the mega-rich who are buying elections, own Washington, and subverting the interests of the middle class. This is not an attack on the super-rich. It's an attack on the super-rich who are subverting the process and the system.

  • UtahBlueDevil Durham, NC
    April 4, 2014 12:18 p.m.

    It amazes me how some can continue to play their partisan songs no matter what the melody is. Listen, all this ruling did is really reaffirm what was the status quo in American for nearly 200 years before campaign finance reform was attempted.

    Those with means have always been those who had most access to influence public opinion - sometimes successfully, sometimes not as much. The remarkable thing about the 2008 campaign, whether you like Obama or not, is that his campaign didn't rely on huge donors but rather hundreds of thousands of micro donors. The same the can be largely said about the Tea Party in that they were a true grass roots organization, until they were co-opted by a few people who again sought to influence the dialog through their position.

    I wish I could say this radically changed things, but instead this is just a minor change in the tempo of the song. I am not saying it is right, nor am I saying it is wrong. Its just that it isn't anything really new either.

    Money has always found a way to flow to candidates.

  • Schnee Salt Lake City, UT
    April 4, 2014 10:43 a.m.

    @red state pride
    "Sheldon Adelson spent 93 million seeking to influence the 2012 Presidential campaign. What did it buy him? "

    His pet issue is banning internet gambling or preventing it from becoming legal. It's no coincidence that shortly before their trips to Nevada to visit, both Governors Perry and Jindal sent letters to Congress urging them to ban internet gambling.

    Who needs bribery when you can legally influence candidates if you're a billionaire?

    "Where was all this angst when Oprah, rich Democrats, and rich Hollywood elites, and even big corporations, were pouring money into Democrat campaigns""

    Campaign finance laws affect everyone on both sides. When Democrats support these limits, they support limiting everyone, including their own side.

    @Mike Richards
    "You want to give an official or department in government the authority to squelch speech. You want us to be forced to do only what government decides is best for us."

    You want our politicians to be bought and representing the few rather than their constituents.

  • jsf Centerville, UT
    April 4, 2014 10:04 a.m.

    You forgot George Soros in your list of the rich @liberal

  • GaryO Virginia Beach, VA
    April 4, 2014 9:56 a.m.

    JS Mill is well known for his “tyranny of the majority,” quote. (Mill’s “On Liberty” is a pretty interesting read . . . It’s a little book with a lot in it.)

    If money is speech, and the most money equates to the most voices, then yes, Mill’s tyranny of the majority becomes the tyranny of the wealthy.

    The Supreme Court has essentially subverted Democracy in America and replaced it with court sanctioned Plutocracy . . . Rendering the Constitution null and void.

    Fortunately, the wealthy do not all agree on how the nation should be run.

    Gates and Buffet, the two richest and most charitable men in America, are of a more Liberal persuasion, and I hope they can be convinced to fund PACS that support reasonable policies and candidates. No charitable giving can be more worthwhile than influencing the course of the future to the benefit of mankind.

    Our Right Wing Supreme Court may well have replaced our Democracy with Baronial Control, where the warring wealthiest determine the course of history, and we humble serfs can only hope for kind masters.

  • Open Minded Mormon Everett, 00
    April 4, 2014 9:49 a.m.

    Questions to all the Conservatives who see this as a GOOD thing for America.

    Since the Democrats already collect more, spend more, and win more in Elections --

    Why is allowing MORE for either side seen as a GOOD thing?

    Because when it gets right down to it,
    it's all about Karma.

    Those who live by the sword, die by the sword.

    Your "Victory" will end up becoming your own "Doom".

    FYI --
    I have been against this from day one.
    Money is NOT Free Speech,
    and Legalized Bribery is Gadianton in the 1st degree.

    I LIKE seeing conservatives loose elections.
    But, I just like to see them loose on the issues, "Fairly and Squarely",
    not being bought out or using bribery -- that's all.

    Stand or fall on their merits,
    Not their money.


  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    April 4, 2014 9:36 a.m.

    The Real Maverick,
    I didn't say "limit the media". I'm not into using the government to limit people's voice (not the media, not even evil capitalists or businesses). My philosophy is to acknowledge them (and their influence). Be aware of it, but don't use the government to limit any of them.

    There's no way to completely stop bribery. And from your posts... you don't want to completely stop it... you just want to stop those you think aren't helping your interests. Or you would complain about both sides (not just one). Because both parties use money.

    Both parties accept campaign contributions. Both encourage campaign contributions. Both sides have PACs. Both sides use the same tactics.

    It's a false pretense that only Republicans accept campaign donations (even from corporations).

    IF you called out both sides... I may think you were more sincere.


    BTW... what scare tactics are you talking about??

  • pragmatistferlife salt lake city, utah
    April 4, 2014 9:24 a.m.

    2bits, "Where was all this angst when Oprah, rich Democrats, and rich Hollywood elites, and even big corporations, were pouring money into Democrat campaigns"

    Like I said before look close and pretty much every lib here has said corporate, union, and large donor money in politics is not good. End of story.

  • Open Minded Mormon Everett, 00
    April 4, 2014 9:02 a.m.

    Mike Richards
    South Jordan, Utah

    Either we have the right speak or we don't. It's an all or nothing thing.


    Stuck in your All-or-Nothing, Balck & White Pleasantville again?

    You do not have the right to yell FIRE in a corwded theater.
    You do not have the right to BULLY or swear.
    You do not have the right to post pornography on billboards.
    You do not have the right to say or do whatever you dare well feel like Mike.

    This is America -- NOT Somalia.
    Money is NOT Free Speech.
    Unless -- You live in Somalia.

    This ruling says --
    "All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others"

    The pigs [Gadiantons] are in the Farmer House,
    Wake Up -- It's 1984.

    BTW -- God bless George Orwell and Joseph Smith for correctly prophesying our times.

  • The Real Maverick Orem, UT
    April 4, 2014 9:00 a.m.

    Limit the number of newspapers? Limit the number of volunteers or the hours they work? What are you guys talking about?

    It's pretty simple: limit or even better eliminate all bribery (money and favors) from our politics.

    It's that simple. Stop trying to use scare tactics to rationalize bribery.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    April 4, 2014 8:49 a.m.

    Re Maverick:
    "You cannot be a good American and support this Judicial Activism by the Supreme Court"...

    My how the tables turn... when the court doesn't agree with you...


    As for all the "You can't be a good American if"... rhetoric...

    I seem to remember people on the Right saying similar stuff... and getting ridiculed by the same person.


    Mountainman had a point....

    Where was all this angst when Oprah, rich Democrats, and rich Hollywood elites, and even big corporations, were pouring money into Democrat campaigns?


    Some protest this benefits Rs more than Ds. It doesn't. If you check... big businesses (like GE, Boeing, Chevron, Lockheed Martin, BP, etc)... contribute equally to both parties. They know they need to be covered no matter which party wins.


    I agree it's sad you can buy elections... but anybody who didn't know that even before now needs to grow up.


    And what about news networks that are obviously for one party (Democrats for all the news networks I watch)?

    Why no angst about that? I think THEY influence the outcome of elections as much as corporate contributions.

    TV news about the candidates helps form most people's opinions!

  • Mike Richards South Jordan, Utah
    April 4, 2014 8:37 a.m.

    Who should determine how citizens spend their own money? If we let government decide, then what does the 1st Amendment mean? Are we to throw out free speech just because we don't like to hear what some people say? Should Utah ban the importation of "Eastern" newspapers and news magazines because they are owned and operated by "liberals"? Who draws the line? What freedoms are we willing to give up so that we can censor those who have different ideas than we have?

    Freedom to speak freely is fundamental to ensuring all freedoms. If government can tell us what we can say about political candidates, why would they stop there? Why wouldn't they tell us that we can't talk about the right to keep and bear arms? Why wouldn't they tell us that we can't criticize ObamaCare? How long before they put Benghazi off limits?

    Either we have the right speak or we don't. It's an all or nothing thing. Our Creator endowed us with unalienable rights - including the right to speak our mind without government censorship.

  • E Sam Provo, UT
    April 4, 2014 8:37 a.m.

    Outstanding op-ed piece. Thanks, DN, for publishing it.

  • liberal larry salt lake City, utah
    April 4, 2014 8:33 a.m.

    People make the comparison that "money equals speech" and we are all in favor of free speech, right?

    I think a better analogy is that money equals the size of your megaphone, and people with giant megaphones, like Sheldon Adelson and the Koch Brothers, can effectively drown out the opinions and views of others.

    Do we really want a society ruled by a few fabulously wealthy oligarchs?

  • red state pride Cottonwood Heights, UT
    April 4, 2014 8:21 a.m.

    Mitt Romney spent 56 million of his own money on his 2012 campaign. What did it buy him? A ticket to nowheresville. Sheldon Adelson spent 93 million seeking to influence the 2012 Presidential campaign. What did it buy him?
    It seems to me that those on the left would celebrate this ruling as they are apparently so good at raising money but as usual anything that expands individual freedom they are opposed to.
    But if you're in favor of limiting monetary political contributions then what else should we limit? Volunteer hours for campaigns? I have a job and 4 kids so I don't have time to go knock on doors soliciting votes for my candidates. Is that fair to me?
    What about newspapers? Should we limit the number of candidates they can endorse? They have a louder voice than little ol' me. It's not fair.
    Finally- how is it fair in an allegedly free country for those in government (power) to make rules limiting the political speech of those outside of government (power)?

  • FT salt lake city, UT
    April 4, 2014 8:17 a.m.

    While disturbing, I don't find the recent ruling as devastating as the writer or the numerous desenters of it. Money influences but it does not predicate an outcome. Yes, the candidates who spend the most usually win but not always. America continues to progress at the same time our middle class is shrinking and wealth is being concentrated at the top. Populism is becoming more than a trend and I think many with wealth will continue to find it difficult to attain office. Certainly, the perception of Mitt Romney being out of touch with Americans hurt him deeply in his campaign. While a candidate may have money he won't be guarenteed a seat in office unless he represents the views of the growing majority of underfunded Americans.

  • Happy Valley Heretic Orem, UT
    April 4, 2014 8:16 a.m.

    Not a partisan issue.
    Of course Fox is excited, every media outlet should be, because it mean unlimited spending on their product.

    If absolute power corrupts and unlimited money corrupts, surely combining the two will produce Justice?

  • pragmatistferlife salt lake city, utah
    April 4, 2014 8:10 a.m.

    MM "Only wealthy Democrats should be able to donate money to their buddies! All others donations limits free speech to a wealthy few? Do I have that correct?"

    Do you really not read what the liberals are saying here? You comments are absolutely baffling sometimes/ahhh most of the time.

  • 10CC Bountiful, UT
    April 4, 2014 7:59 a.m.

    As usual, Marxist makes some keen insights into where we've been and where we're at.

    I remember those days, when people felt like they could make a difference, and we really did control our own destiny, as a nation. American Exceptionalism was alive and well - we were the first to put a man on the moon, Neil Armstrong was a hero, the Peace Corps was a way we shared our esteemed values with the rest of the world, who looked up to us.

    Now, the Supremes have essentially declared American Exceptionalism dead, allowing the oligarchs to exert even greater influence than they already do. This either paves the way for a populist revolution, a rebellion of the people against the 1%, or it will make US politicians much like those in Russia, subject to the oligarchs who put them in power.

    We view Putin as a power hungry nationalist, and to curb his behavior we go after his oligarch constituency. The same will be true for the US - if you want to exert influence on American presidents, go after George Soros and the Koch Brothers.

    There's not much of a middle way anymore.

  • The Real Maverick Orem, UT
    April 4, 2014 7:12 a.m.

    You cannot be a good American and support this Judicial Activism by the Supreme Court. Democrats and Republicans together should be doing everything possible to eliminate (not encourage) bribery in our democracy.

    Allowing big money to buy legislation is exactly the opposite of what our Founding Fathers wanted.

    You cannot be a good American if you support bribery.

  • Open Minded Mormon Everett, 00
    April 4, 2014 7:01 a.m.

    Thank You Prof. Barker.

    This SupremeCourt ruling is not about FreeSpeech at all.
    But about political access, money, legalized Bribery, and Elections under the guise of FreeSpeech.
    Hence: McCutcheon V. FEC [i.e., Federal Election Commission]

    FreeSpeech would be:
    Can I wear a Naziuniform, and title abook “Arguing with Idiots”,
    Freely answering if a dress makes someone look fat.

    Try calling your Congressman.
    Unless you make the “A” list, you’ll never speak them.
    The “A” list is prioritized by $money.
    "Free" Speech?, hardly.

    This is about selling one’s soul to the Devil.
    Why do you think a politician SAYS one thing during an election,
    And then DO the opposite?

    Our Government officials should not be subject, obligated or beholden to “paybacks”, “Kickbacks”, obligations or “favors” – but to the PEOPLE.

    This is financial bondage and CONTROL of our Government.

    I’m still baffled why the DeseretNews supports this.
    So, follow the money...

    Prof.Barker gains nothing from this ruling, and explains why as a common citizen.
    The Deseret News a business.
    Advertising is the life blood of the media, and this is ALL about $ advertising.

    Go figure…

  • Mountanman Hayden, ID
    April 4, 2014 6:49 a.m.

    Only wealthy Democrats should be able to donate money to their buddies! All others donations limits free speech to a wealthy few? Do I have that correct?

  • JoeBlow Far East USA, SC
    April 4, 2014 4:46 a.m.

    Partisan politics is hopeless. You look at some areas and say "certainly the PEOPLE, both R and D will completely agree on this".

    And the "this" today is big dollars to politicians.

    I watched Fox news yesterday and the days theme was that all this big money in politics is a good thing. That it makes the whole system better and fairer.

    Come on folks. Use your head. You know better.

    The money corrupts. It corrupts R and D alike. Corporate, union, Soros or Koch. Doesn't matter.

    But you know it corrupts and I know it corrupts. Yesterdays Fox narrative is (or should be) an insult to your intelligence.

  • Owen Heber City, UT
    April 4, 2014 1:05 a.m.

    The best reasoning and writing in this paper in years. Thanks for printing this opposing view.

  • marxist Salt Lake City, UT
    April 4, 2014 12:24 a.m.

    Those of us who grew up in the 50's experienced an optimistic time, typified by optimism for civic involvement. It was assumed that everyday people could have an influence for good in the political process. But our system is evolving in another direction. The economic system has dictated the top heavy distributions of wealth and income. Those at the top have used their influence bring about changes which re-enforce the concentration process. Recent decisions by the court are but a product of this.

    We now know that everyday people have little influence on public policy. This breeds despair. We see it in Utah with its low voter participation. Why vote? Where is this process taking us? Now THAT is a question the Deseret News ought to attempt an answer for.