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Tuesday, December 16, 2003

Attacks on Supremes' McCain-Feingold Decision
I'd heard many suggestions that the McCain-Feingold-Shays-Meehan campaign finance bill was flawed, that it wouldn't stop the corruption, that there were too many loopholes and ways around it. But my impression was that most people were on board with it, thinking it was a necessary first step, however flawed. I thought that only neanderthals like Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell tried to use the "campaign contributions are free speech" argument. The bill passed, Bush signed it. McConnell challenged it in the Supreme Court, which just recently upheld almost all of it as constitutional.

But now I'm seeing a surprising number of political cartoons berating the Supremes for "destroying free speech." It might be expected from normally right-wing cartoonists like Mike Lester and John Cole, who even takes a personal swipe at Reagan appointee Sandra Day O'Connor.

But I've also seen cartoons with the same message from normally liberal cartoonists, like Steve Benson and Signe Wilkinson, more than I recall seeing back when the bill was being debated in Congress (and when it was more in the news). I'll confess I don't know all of the details about the bill, but I don't think that cash is free speech. We all know that there are limits even to free speech (yelling "Movie!" in a crowded fire station, for instance). And there are rightly limits on spending money (unless you're Rush Limbaugh). Theoretically, in my dream world at least, democracy is not supposed to be for sale. So where are all these complaints about the Supremes' decision on M-F coming from, and why now?