View From a Height
Commentary from the Mile High City
Thursday, December 11, 2003


...or "why you can't read this posting during November 2004."

Jonah Goldberg wants to know why the blogs have been quiet about McCain-Feingold. I can only speak for myself, but I have a couple of reasons. First, I like to defer to people who actually know what they're talking about. I'm not a professional pundit; I have a job; and I do not have time to read a 90,000-word opinion on why "Peace" means "War." Secondly, I'm stunned that any member of the Supreme Court of the United States, during any era, at any time, could bring himself to belive that "Peace" means "War." Taken in combination, they mean that I sit here in stunned silence, feeling hollowed out that our freedoms are being hollowed out.

Then there's the question of a plan. If, like Humpty-Dumpty, they Supreme Court can use words to mean "whatever they like, no more and no less," what can we do? Can we pass more laws? If they're not Constitutional Amendments, they'll be subordinate to this eviscerated First Amendment. If they are, they'll be interpreted however these weasels want to interpret them. This is a profound ruling, and I wonder if there isn't a sense that paper, not pixels, is the only thing weighty enough to deal with this justly.

Where is the Congress? Where is the President? They passed and signed this bill into law, hoping that the Supreme Court would save them from their own cravenness. They abdicated their rights, their historical responsibilities, to discuss the Constitutionality of a bill before it became law. This was noted at the time, but shouted down, since we all knew the Court wouldn't go for the worst parts of the law, right? Well, now we've got the worst parts thrown in there together.

I'm not an attorney. I have no idea to what extent this law applies. The ACLU can't criticize a candidate just before an election. Can I, a private individual take out an ad? Or hand out flyers downtown? What if a group of fellow bloggers decides to do so, is that a group to be regulated? What if we get together year after year to do so; is that a group to be regulated? I have no idea what the standards are here, and I suspect that part of the blogosphere's silence is related to that. I do know that a court that can make the ruling it just did may be able to expand restrictions over time, by lawsuit, without the legislature even needing to act.

Every Presidential candidate should be asked about it, and should be ridiculed and heckled and verbally tortured until they say stop. The President needs to be asked about it, and needs to introduce legislation to revoke that portion of the act. Every Senator and every Congressman need to be asked relentlessly about this from now until Election Day. Every Town Meeting needs to have this question asked:

Mr. or Madame [Senator, Congressman, President], the Supreme Court has just rendered you immune from paid public criticism for 14 days prior to an election. What on earth give you that right, and what are you going to do about it?

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