Freedom of Speech for Me, But Not for Thee

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Posted: May 07, 2010 5:33 PM

In response to the Supreme Court's decision in Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission--which reaffirmed the Constitution's freedom of speech clause for political contributions of corporations and unions--Democrats in the White House and on Capitol Hill pledged to work their way around the ruling. 

Sens. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., have introduced legislation attempting to reimpose the restrictions the court overturned.  This time, however, they have made an interesting exception...

According to the Center for Individual Freedom, the Schumer-Van Hollen bill would prohibit campaign contributions from all contractors with the government and recipients of Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) funds.  The bill would also impose the same restrictions on businesses with as few as 20% of shares owned by foreign nations, or whose boards of directors have a majority of foreign nationals.  But one group of big-spenders has been curiously left out of the Democrats' proposed monetary restrictions: labor unions.

The Hill, quoting Loyola Law School election law professor Richard L. Hasen, says Obama's Big Labor buddies may get a free pass in the bill:

...[S]ome of the biggest campaign spending restrictions in the summary would only affect corporations.  For example, large federal contractors, recipients of government bailout funds who have not repaid the money and foreign-owned companies would be banned from election spending.  ‘There are no foreign-owned unions, and unions are not government contractors,’ Hasen said.  ‘The biggest limitations in this bill apply only to corporations because there are no parallels in the labor world.’ 

The CFIF also recalls how the supposedly "post-partisan" Obama also "omitted powerful labor unions from his vitriol toward the Citizens United decision:
“The Supreme Court has given a green light to a new stampede of special interest money in our politics.  It is a major victory for Big Oil, Wall Street banks, health insurance companies and other powerful interests that marshal their power every day in Washington to drown out the voices of everyday Americans.  This ruling gives the special interests and their lobbyists even more power in Washington, while undermining the influence of average Americans who make small contributions to support their preferred candidates.”

“Powerful interests” other than Big Labor, I guess...