WASHINGTON, September 15, 2009–The Supreme Court has recently finished an unusual second round of hearings in the case of Citizens United v. FEC. The case concerns the government’s decision to ban Citizens United from airing a movie about Hillary Clinton during the 2008 Democratic primaries on the grounds that it violated a campaign finance provision in the McCain-Feingold Act. Supporters of campaign finance restrictions argue that by limiting the ability of the wealthy to promote their political views, these restrictions make speech more “fair.”
“What campaign finance supporters call ‘fair’ speech is anything but fair,” writes Don Watkins, a writer and researcher with the Ayn Rand Center.
“Those who acquire wealth through productive activity, whether individuals or corporations (which are nothing more than groups of individuals), have every right to use their ‘louder megaphone’: they earned it. What possible reason could make it ‘unfair’ for these individuals to use their resources to support and further their political views?
“In ordinary speech, ‘fairness’ means justice: getting what you deserve–i.e., what you have earned. But the advocates of campaign finance laws twist it to mean equal results: everyone, they claim, must have ‘equal speech.’ They are speech egalitarians. “But real fairness demands, not ‘equal speech,’ but equal freedom–not equal megaphones or equal commercial time but the equal right to get your message out as widely as you can given your time, interest, resources, and persuasiveness. But that’s precisely what campaign finance laws prevent, by having government bureaucrats dictate what you can spend, how you can spend it, when you can speak, and what you can say.”