Supporters of campaign finance laws have been apoplectic since the Supreme Court struck down a ban on corporate political ads in Citizens United. Having lost another big case this year in McCutcheon v. FEC, they now want to write their views directly into the Constitution.
Last week, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved a resolution calling for a constitutional amendment that would let government limit contributions to candidates and spending by and on behalf of them. The House will take up a similar proposal soon. To see where this amendment would lead if enacted, consider that the law in Citizens United prevented a group from distributing a film that criticized Hillary Clinton during her last presidential bid. During arguments in the case, the government’s lawyer admitted that the law could apply to books as well.
At the core of this effort is the very dangerous view that freedom of speech isn’t an inalienable individual right—a right to say what you want regardless of what others think—but a privilege that we exercise at the sufferance of “the public.”