The Roberts Court continues its work turning America into corporatocracy with a government of the rich, by the rich and for the rich. The Supreme Court in a 5-4 ruling today just struck down a provision (PDF) of Arizona’s public campaign financing system that would provide publicly financed candidates some matching funds if their opponents started raising large quantities of private money.
In doing so the Roberts Court relys on a radical interruption of the First Amendment that effectively created a new right for the rich, the right of the rich to be able to use money to drown out poor people’s speech.
Even using the logic that money equals speech the decision is nonsense. The matching funds system in the Arizona law in no way restricted any candidates or organizations ability to spend unlimited amounts of money on political speech. They were still free to use as much private money as they wanted to spend on political advertising. All the law did was provide public matching money to other candidates if their opponents spend beyond a set amount.
The five conservative justices believe, though, that the government helping people speak louder is effectively the same as destroying other people’s right to speak, despite the matching funds in no way restricting the amount anyone could spend on getting out their message. It is almost as if the court is claiming there is literal a finite zero-sum amount of speech in the world and there is no way to help one party to speak without taking speech away from others.
While it is true public matching funds may tactically dis-incentive some campaign spending choices, tactics is not speech. If campaign believes they have the better message choosing to spend as much as need to get that message out regardless of whether or not it would trigger matching funds would still be the smart tactical choice.
The movements of the Roberts Court on campaign financing reform are beyond troubling. The rich no longer just have a right to free speech, their money now apparently gives them the inherent right to speak louder and longer than anyone else.