Dec 27, 2003 1:43 am


In Monday’s Washington Times there are two excellent columns concerning the recent Supreme Court decision upholding the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform law. In the first one Nat Hentoff, quite possibly America’s staunchest defender of the First Amendment, highlights some of the arguments made by the dissenting judges. Their points are so valid that they leave one with a sense of wonderment as to how the other justices could have voted to sustain a law so clearly injurious to our right to free speech.

Hentoff also reminds us that the law in effect curtails the ability of individuals of modest means to speak politically during the crucial period before an election by denying them the right to pool their resources, while it leaves the First Amendment rights of billionaires such as George Soros and Bill Gates intact. At the end of his piece he quotes a letter writer to the New York Times, Edward Wronk, who says, “The powerful have only gotten more powerful.”

In the second column John R. Lott Jr., perhaps America’s staunchest Defender of the Second Amendment, discusses a recent announcement by the National Rifle Association (NRA) that it is considering buying a television or radio station. Just as Hentoff shows that the law fosters inequality among individuals Lott demonstrates that the law creates inequality among institutions. He asks,

“But what really distinguishes General Electric’s versus General Motors’ ability to influence elections? Is it really simply ownership of television networks? Can unions buy radio stations? Can anyone possibly rationalize such distinctions?"
Apparently McCain, Feingold, and Sandra Day O’Connor can but I can’t.

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