Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has suggested that a key litmus test in evaluating prospective Supreme Court appointees would be their willingness to challenge “the right of billionaires to buy elections.”
Presumably, a suitable judge would indicate a desire to overturn the Citizens United decision that struck down a ban on political expenditures by corporations and unions ruled to violate the First Amendment protection of free speech – a case coincidentally centered on Citizen United’s attempt to advertise for and air a film critical of none other than Clinton.
In light of recent allegations swirling around the presidential favorite, Clinton’s support of such a position is highly ironic.
For while the former secretary of State may oppose the rights of the wealthy to spend money on politics, she seems to have no such concern with the wealthy spending money on the Clinton Foundation and her husband Bill – all while Hillary served in the Obama administration.
Would Clinton seek a Supreme Court justice who would protect the rights of the likes of Carlos Slim and James Murdoch to contribute to the favored cause of a politician and shower the politician’s spouse with millions for speaking engagements?
If so, this apparent hypocrisy can be read in one of two ways:
- Clinton believes that money does not have a corrupting influence so long as it is funneled through “indirect” channels
- Clinton believes that the wealthy and powerful ought to bypass funding elections and simply pay politicians outright.
Appearances of impropriety aside, there are a few substantive questions around political speech that Clinton should be required to address.
Why does Clinton believe that the government has a compelling interest in stifling the political speech of any American, rich or poor?
More generally, given a system in which millions of dollars are spent on losing causes each election cycle on both the left and right, what have Americans to fear about spending so long as laws are enforced equally and impartially regarding “pay-to-play” schemes and other politically corrupt activity?