Because freedom can't protect itself
Kudos on the good work & best of luck. As a fellow West Virginian, I'm watching this closely.
"Buying elections" is a metaphor, and a very deceptive metaphor, crafted by people who want to blow a hole in the First amendment you could drive a truck through. I'm more than a little disturbed to see the ACLU humoring the idea that purchasing airtime and printed matter constitutes "buying an election". Are you planning to become as bad on the First amendment as you are on the Second?
Unfortunately, "buying elections" is not a metaphor in West Virginia. It happens, and it is getting old.
Further, I am not advocating for limiting what is said or printed. Say whatever you want in your electioneering communications. However, the public has a legitimate interest in knowing the significant financial support of these organizations.
It is in the public interest for voters to, at a minimum, have the opportunity to make informed decisions as to the legitimacy of organizations who spend millions of dollars in blatant efforts to influence the outcomes of elections.
I couldn't agree more with Brett Bellmore (comment #2). I'm as concerned about the ACLU being on the wrong side of the 1st Amendment as I am when McCain puts the 1st Amendment in quotation marks.
There are legitimate reasons for anonymous political speech, and such speech should receive vigorous protection by the 1st Amendment.
Um, "blatant efforts to influence the outcomes of elections" are a CIVIL RIGHT. In other contexts the ACLU generally frowns on the demand that exercise of a civil right involve your identity being publicly outed.
And, no, "buying elections" damned well IS a metaphor, unless you're paying elections officials to rig the count, or something comparable.
"Unfortunately, “buying elections” is not a metaphor in West Virginia."
Yes, it is. They're buying speech and printed matter, not malfeasance on the part of elections officials. They're buying *the opportunity to persuade*.
Treating this sort of thing as even vaguely analogous to corruption is a frightening departure from respect for freedom of speech and the press, and especially coming from a self-proclaimed 'civil liberties' organization, even one as well known for it's hypocrisy as the ACLU.
If and whenever you decide to give to a candidate's election committee (i.e. Friends of whoever) you are, in most states subject to disclosure laws if your contribution exceeds certain amounts.
The situation in West Virginia comes down to some simple realities: Huge corporations give massive amounts of money in what is the same goal of a candiate's election committee, namely electing that candidate and defeating another. Therefore, sham 527's who carefully navigate taxcode loopholes but nonetheless are out to influence elections should be held to the same standard as those who give large amounts to a specific candidate's committee.
Please remember, in WV, we do not require specification of any donor who gives less than less than $1000. Additionally, 527's don't have to report anything if they spend less than $5000 in an election cycle. No one is trying to out the small or medium level donors. But the public has an intrest if a huge corporation is dumping hundreds of thousands of dollars destroying the character of a candidate in a blatant attempt to elect another.
Why are you scared of allowing the public to know where the significant support of the groups come from?
Don't pretend like this is the 1700's. I know full well the risks that Ben Franklin took when he published 'Poor Richard's Almanac.' Yes, at that time he could have been hanged for his political advocacy. These things are important to remember and practice in the appropriate circumstances today.
However, do not even try to equivocate what our Founding Fathers went through with what is going on today in West Virginia and have the audacity to claim Free Speech. If you are out to influence elections, then the sources of your major contributions should be held to the same scrutiny as everyone else's.
They’re buying speech and printed matter,but They’re buying the opportunity to persuade is it not the same?
To me in orders to have speech you must have printed matter and then you must get people to vote for that speech so your persuading them,and that is why i question is it not the same?
AS A STUDENT FROM LiNCOLN WEST HiGHSCHOOL i FOUND THiS BLOG VERY iNTERESTiNG.
iT MADE ALOT OF iNTERESTiNG POiNTS AND TAUGHT ME SOME NEW THiNGS!
I thinks this is very wrong no matter what.
IM AM IN 10TH GRADE STUDENT.I GO TOO LINCOLN WEST HIGH SCHOOL.MY OPINION ABOUT WHAT I CHOOSE IS THE BUYING ELECTION IS NOT FREE SPEECH.WHAT I THINK IS VOTERS HAS THE RIGHT FOR TAX CLASSIFICATION AND SOURCES.THIS IS MY OPINION ABOUT WHAT I CHOOSE.
IM A STUDENT FROM LINCOLN WEST AND I THINK THAT THIS BLOG HAD A LOT OF INTERESTING FACTS AND I THOUGHT IT WAS A GOOD BLOG.
So I guess its ok to buy an election when its a friend of the ACLU? Like say, this past presidential election. Hypocrites.
More information about formatting options
Get breaking news on issues you care about
Congress: Restore the Voting Rights Act
Sign up for the ACLU Action newsletter.
Chip in to help protect all of our rights and liberties.
© ACLU, 125 Broad Street, 18th Floor, New York NY 10004
This is the website of the American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU Foundation.
Learn more about these two components of the ACLU.