Look beyond the political ads

By Frank Samuelson

A local retired judge, John Donald O’Shea, has argued that the 2010 Citizens United decision by the U.S. Supreme Court did not “open big money floodgates” in campaign financing but simply upheld the constitutional right of free speech. Statistics, however, document an explosion of money given to finance political campaigns and “political speech” since 2010, much of it given by anonymous donors.

On April 30, retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens testified before the Rules Committee of the U.S. Senate that: “While money is used to finance speech, money is not speech. Speech is only one of the activities that are financed by campaign contributions and expenditures. Those financial activities should not receive precisely the same constitutional protections as speech itself. After all, campaign funds were used to finance the Watergate burglary – actions that clearly were not protected by the First Amendment.” Justice Stevens argued for legislation that limits the amount of money that corporations, unions and individuals can contribute to political campaigns.

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