Our Turn: We must curb the power of big money in elections
By Sen. DAVID PIERCE and ROBERT WEISSMAN
For the Monitor
Thursday, June 6, 2013
(Published in print: Thursday, June 6, 2013)
House Concurrent Resolution 2 calls for a constitutional amendment to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission ruling, which opened the floodgates of unlimited campaign spending. The resolution calls for an amendment that states, “Money is not speech, and therefore regulating the political contributions and spending is not equivalent to limiting political speech.” New Hampshire adults support such a constitutional amendment by 3-to-1 margin in a recent poll.
There are several misconceptions that have circulated through the New Hampshire Legislature about this resolution that we hope to dispel.
The first misconception is that HCR 2 calls for an amendment that would enable limits to be placed only on corporate spending in elections. In fact, the amendment sought by HCR 2 would give Congress the power to regulate campaign expenditures from unions, individuals and corporations. Thus, the amendment would allow Congress and state legislatures to take away the power of wealthy entities and individuals to buy political influence; it would enable the leveling of the playing field so all voices can be heard.
The second misconception is that HCR 2 is a limitation on free speech. Campaign spending is a means of amplifying speech, but not speech in itself. As Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens stated, “Money is property; it is not speech.” When a person speaks through a bullhorn, the bullhorn itself is not speech; it is a vehicle for amplifying speech. Similarly, HCR 2 does not seek to regulate the content of speech, but the money that well-endowed entities and individuals use to amplify their speech and drown out the rest of the population. As the late Warren Rudman, former U.S. senator from New Hampshire said, “Free speech can hardly be called free when only the rich are heard.”
Read the rest at The Concord Monitor.