Have the liberals come full circle?
Author: Damien M. Schiff
The Supreme Court ruled earlier this week in Arizona Free Enterprise Club's Freedom Club PAC v. Bennett, that Arizona's matching funds law, which gives money to candidates who accept certain campaign restrictions and obligations and gives additional funds if the candidates run against privately financed individuals, violates the First Amendment (a great win, BTW, brought to you by our freedom fighting allies at the Goldwater Institute and the Institute for Justice). The LA Times had a very thoughtul oped on the decision, noting how it demarcates two opposing visions of the First Amendment, a demarcation that also explains rifts on the Court in other areas too.
The libertarian model [of the First Amendment], reflected in Chief Justice John Roberts' majority opinion, sees the amendment as primarily about keeping government from repressing speech. The liberal view, expressed in Justice Elena Kagan's dissenting opinion, is that the 1st Amendment is about government fostering speech — the more, the better — with public funds if necessary.
It's peculiar that the liberal wing of the Court would subscribe to a vision of free speech that's more about entitlement than freedom, especially given that a late Lion of the Left, Justice William Brennan, famously wrote that "debate on public issues should be uninhibited, robust, and wide-open." Perhaps it's not too inaccurate to say that today's Left wing on the high court is more statist than liberal.
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