December 11, 2003
Happy days are here again!
Of all the excuses for permitting money to dominate our political process, corrupt our elected officials, and discourage good people from seeking office, the one that rankled the most was, "Can't do it because the First Amendment would be damaged." It was always nonsense, and now, by a 5-4 vote, the U.S. Supreme Court has said double nonsense.
How do you know it is a good decision to uphold McCain-Feingold? You awaken to Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce spokesman Jim Pugh saying on WPR, "This is the darkest day for the First Amendment..." Then you learn that the NRA is upset, WEAC is upset, Wisconsin Right to Life is upset. Whenever the enemies of reform are upset, it is a good day for democracy.
This is a major surprise, and it emphasizes why we must be serious about the presidential election next year.
The major blow to the anti-reformers is the recognition by the court that Congress can protect itself from the corrupting influence of money. The First Amendment should not be a shield to protect those who undermine the system they claim to support.
Here in Wisconsin, the court's decision supports the conclusions the Heffernan Commission issued in June of 1997. Former Chief Justice Nat Heffernan, Midge Miller, Carin Claus, Paul Hassett, Bill Kraus, Charlie Dee, Barbara Lawton, Louis Fortis, Stan Gruszynski and others spent hundreds of hours designing a plan that would pass constitutional muster and eliminate corruption in Wisconsin.
Now, the Legislature and the governor have no excuse. It's ime to clean out the barn, folks.
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