More recently, the Court struck down a federal ban on independent political speech by corporations, unions and associations. In 2010’s Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the justices called free speech “an essential mechanism of democracy” that is “the means to hold officials accountable to the people.”
But some incumbents don’t like challengers. And they don’t like the fact that voters can freely use their money to make their voices heard. So they’re pushing Udall’s amendment, which would not only give Congress the power to limit what you can contribute to candidates, but limit the amount that the candidates could spend on campaigns.
Worse, they’ve carved out exemptions for the media. “Thus, The New York Times and MSNBC could continue to spend as much money, newsprint and airtime as they want supporting their preferred candidates -- or attacking those they oppose,” notes von Spakovsky. The rest of us would be out of luck.
Udall’s amendment is plainly an end-run around the Supreme Court, which has so far held the line on the First Amendment. “Virtually every means of communicating ideas in today's mass society requires the expenditure of money,” the Court noted in Buckley.
What was true in 1798 and 1976 remains true in 2014. Bans on money are bans on speech, and every American’s right to speak freely should be given the fullest protection possible under the Constitution. Limit campaign spending, and we’ll all pay the price.