Should unlimited spending on political speech be a protected right?

In 2010, the Supreme Court ruled that the First Amendment protected the right of corporations and unions to spend money on political speech. That decision, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, didn’t affect how much money organizations could donate to political campaigns — but it removed limits on how much they could spend themselves.

In a recent Intelligence Squared U.S. debate, legal scholars squared off on a question that gets at the heart of the debate over Citizens United, among other issues: Do individuals and organizations have a constitutional right to unlimited spending on their own political speech?

Listen to an hour long Oxford-style debate on this question.

Today’s Question: Should is unlimited spending on political speech be a protected right?

  • whitedoggie44

    Yes, free speech is free speech despite the whinning from the left. As much as the democrats would love to control speech, protecting this right is fundamental to our freedom to express our displeasure with the political class. One more point, Harry Reid is an idiot.

    • JQP

      free speech … is not inhibited by spending limits at all , under any circumstances. you can say whatever you like…

      the idea that your right to speak extends to your ability to afford the biggest megaphone is utter rubbish.

      if your freely spoken message is all that good… why do you have to pay to get it out?

      • whitedoggie44

        If speech is open and free, please be my guest to speak at an Ivy League university about the benefits of NYC stop and frisk and let’s see if the students let you speak freely.

        • Joe

          The students should be frisked before attending such a speech depending on what color they are, that will weed out the rowdy ones!

          • whitedoggie44

            Your a moron

    • kevins

      Your post is free. Your speech is also. Your biases are priceless.

  • PaulJ

    You can’t have the gov’t infringing on political speech. On the other hand; people in gov’t, or in the running, shouldn’t be allowed accept money. Let those people find a way besides mindless TV advertisements to support voter decision making.

  • Joe

    No. I’m sick of the political-industrial complex of the past few election cycles. Just wait until political call center operations are outsourced to India…

  • JQP

    Under the current system … no.
    However… IF
    – no ad/message ( by anyone ) can mention or imply or impugn another politician or political entity by name, image or description.
    – all adds may only mention/display the image, picture, positions, ideas, purposes of the sponsoring entity.
    – every sponsoring entity must, in the item distributed ( pamphlet, TV add, internet item, blog, post, tweet, email, brochure, mailing, speech, … ) name a specific individual human person who is legally responsible for the content. and will personally go to prison or pay fines if the content is found lacking.

    Time to make humans responsible for the rubbish they are putting out on the curb.

  • kevins

    I am frequently ambivalent about politics, government and so on. Having lived through the Nixon years, I know that hese things can be sinner and saint at the same time. The main difficulty I have with the money equals free speech concept is that money is also power, and a citizen would have to be naive to assume power is always used in a kind, healthy and just way. I vote because it is my responsibility, and my opinion is the only thing that power cannot take from me. I am increasingly wary of how money is used to promote candidates and issues in a way that is inherently dishonest. That being said, I think that it is also the obligation of the citizen to be an informed voter (not simply to vote), which can neutralize the cancerous manipulativeness of money as a tool for powerful entities to get what they desire. Unfortunately, I believe that there are many diligent voters easliy convinced that well funded (powerful) mesages are truth (eg: taking money from schools until the next bienium is good for us), and thus enable the economically powerful to become the politically powerful. As for the SC’s stance on all of this, I will never accept the logic that a corporation is a person.

  • marca

    Equating speech with money allows some to “speak” in many districts in which they are not voters. I believe that this concentrates political power in a way the Founding Fathers would never have considered democratic. We have seen the Koch brothers intervene in local elections, even in small towns, in areas in which they have never lived. This has nothing to do with the free speech which the Founding Fathers wanted to protect.

    • Jamie

      I’m going to go out on a limb here and assume that you’re all for Michael Bloomberg spending millions through Moms Demand Action in towns where he’s never lived. Please correct me if I’m mistaken.

      • Joe

        He should change his name to Michael Momberg!

  • Joe

    I like the irony of Al Franken asking for money to help fight Citizens United. Also, he has very little power as a Senator to do anything about it. Good for him though I guess? Supposedly it attracts “small” donors…

  • Joe

    Some British news agencies (amongst others I’m sure) have begun describing America as an oligarchy, but hey, at least we’re better than those darn Commies in Russia at it!

  • Rich in Duluth

    No, spending limits should be in force. This does not limit free speech, it limits the wealthy or organizations with lots of money from dominating a campaign and drowning out opposition views. In fact, I would prefer publically financed campaigns and requiring the media to give equal time to all significant candidates.