I Don’t Get the Whole Money = Speech Thing

By Bill Maher

It seems to me that, while the Constitution guarantees the right to speech, it doesn't guarantee access to speech. You're free to publish a book, but that doesn't mean every book publisher has to accept your manuscript. If Westboro Baptist wants to buy ad time, TV stations have the right to say no. Similarly, the Koch Brothers can write editorials or stage rallies or do whatever they want to make their "voice" heard, but I don't see how they have a "right" to buy ad time or invest millions in a candidate, especially if it's in the public interest to prevent this.  

A protestor throwing a brick through a window is engaging in speech. Someone making child pornography is engaging in speech. But in both cases, society has chosen to put limits on that speech. It's a question of balance. Any idiot can see that allowing unlimited funding from billionaires into elections is a bad thing. We knew this back in 1907, when Teddy Roosevelt pushed for campaign finance limits, and Benjamin "Pitchfork Ben" Tillman, a white supremacist senator from South Carolina, wrote a bill that banned corporate contributions (this was before Southern conservatives had been conned into believing their interests matched those of multinational corporations.)

Who knew that money corrupts Congress? Actual congressmen. That's why they wrote the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971, to try and stop this stuff. It passed by a vote of 334 to 20 (77 not voting). Nixon praised the bill at the signing ceremony, saying it was "an important step forward" and would "guard against campaign abuses." And then Buckley v. Valeo came along and overturned part of that act with its notion of money equaling speech, and it all went to shit from that point on.