Monday, May 03, 2010

The Democrats' version of free speech

The Democrats have been up in arms over the Supreme Court's decision in Citizens United that threw out the provisions of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act that limited independent campaign expenditures by corporations and unions before an election. So they've turned to the leaders of their campaign committees in Congress, Senator Schumer and Rep. Van Hollen to craft a bill to add in restrictions on free speech by corporations.
The legislation, sponsored by Democrats Charles Schumer in the Senate and Chris Van Hollen in the House, would prevent government contractors and corporate beneficiaries of the Troubled Asset Relief Program from spending money on U.S. elections. It would also ban U.S. subsidiaries of foreign companies from making political contributions if a foreign national owns 20% or more of the voting shares in the company, or if foreign nationals comprise a majority of the board of directors.

The provisions are designed to undermine this year's landmark Supreme Court Citizens United decision, which held that limits on independent campaign expenditures by corporations or unions violate First Amendment free speech guarantees. But, under the bill, unions with government contracts would not be subject to the same restrictions as corporations.

If, as proponents claim, their worry is that a company will use campaign contributions to win government contracts (pay-to-play), why does their bill not show equal concern that labor unions will support candidates with the goal of getting government contracts driven to union companies? The legislation also fails to impose limits on the foreign involvement of unions with global reach, such as the Service Employees International Union or the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.
You see, the whole goal is to regulate speech by those whom the Democrats don't like, but not that of groups which support Democrats.