WASHINGTON, D.C. | May 3, 2010
In January, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a “landmark
” decision that overturned a ban on certain “electioneering communications” by corporations and unions within 30 days of a primary election and 60 days before a general election. The prohibition, included in the 2002 campaign finance reform bill, undermined the basic principle that associations of private citizens have the right to voice support and opposition for their elected representatives.
In his State of the Union Address, President Obama said
it was his belief that the Supreme Court ruling “will open the floodgates for special interests…to spend without limit in our elections.” The president continued: “I don't think American elections should be bankrolled by America's most powerful interests, or worse, by foreign entities.”
In light of the president’s sharp criticism, the American people might find it interesting that the Democrats chose to treat a certain “special interest” more favorably by including a carve out for labor unions:
“Democrats have settled on their ‘fix’ for the Supreme Court ruling that opened the door for corporations and unions to push more cash into political campaigns, but they neglected to fully include labor in their repair… The light Democrats want to shine will illuminate only part of campaign spending. It leaves expenditures by unions, which overwhelmingly favor Democrats, largely in the shadows.” (Detroit News, Editorial, “Democrats’ campaign finance bill excuses union from limits placed on corporations,” 5/3/2010)
“… 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.” (Wall Street Journal, Editorial, “Free Speech for Some,” 5/3/2010)
It is now well-documented that a disturbing culture of union favoritism has come to dominate the federal government. Even more disturbing is when such favoritism applies the First Amendment to some citizens and not others.
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