Thursday, February 11, 2010

Freedom of Speech?

Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a long-standing ban on corporations using their treasury funds to run presidential and congressional election advertisements. As a result, businesses are free to spend without constraint in support of a specific candidate.

Most Republican leaders claim the ruling defends the First Amendment’s free speech clause. However, by allowing special interest groups to influence candidates and their elections, corporate interests will dominate the campaign landscape and overshadow individual concerns, thus corrupting the political process.

Freedom of speech is guaranteed to all American people. It represents our ability to speak up and be heard by others, especially when it comes to our representation. Yet this ruling only silences our voices, and increases the influence of Wall Street lobbyists and foreign governments in our lives. Why should a select group of individuals, some who live outside our boarders, mandate how the country is run for the majority of us?

To counter some of the negative effects of this campaign finance ruling, Democrats have recently unveiled legislation that would limit foreign-controlled corporations from influencing American elections. The bill, introduced by Senator Schumer of New York and Rep. Van Hollen of Maryland, would also increase disclosure requirements for domestic corporations when making political ads.

Will Republicans continue to defend special interests and allow foreign leaders to dictate American politics? Or will they support a bill that truly defends the First Amendment?

I would urge the latter.

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