I'm not a lawyer. Surprised? Too much work, too much school. But I do love the law, and read about it often. So I was not surprised when I found this critique of Sonia Sotomayor from conservatarian blog Point of Law:
I suggested hope that she might apply such strong free-speech views to cases involving campaign finance restrictions.The tolerance in this country for questionable behavior by public officials is illustrated by the persistence of extremely troubling--but legal-- practices in the public arena. In one of the murkiest and least well-controlled areas, we find ourselves debating what the quid pro quo's are for campaign contributions. Here we have abandoned standards we would surely apply in any other context. We would never condone private gifts to judges about to decide a case implicating the gift-givers' interests. Yet our system of election financing permits extensive private, including corporate, financing of candidates' campaigns, raising again and again the question what the difference is between contributions and bribes and how legislators or other officials can operate objectively on behalf of the electorate. Can elected officials say with credibility that they are carrying out the mandate of a "democratic" society, representing only the general public good, when private money plays such a large role in their campaigns? If they cannot, the public must demand a change in the role of private money or find other ways, such as through strict, well-enforced regulation, to ensure that politicians are not inappropriately influenced in their legislative or executive decision-making by the interests that give them contributions. (footnotes omitted)As I read her comments, Sotomayor seems either woefully ignorant of or utterly unconcerned by the centrality of political speech to the First Amendment, and the pretty self-evident notion that monies spent on or donated to campaigns constitute political speech.
Crap. simply crap. I know, having buckets full of money entitles one to buy a big house, a private jet, a fancy car. But the weird fetish of the right that political contributions are "free speech" makes no sense at all.
Until one understands that they want, they encourage, government takeover by the wealthy, and the corporations. Then it all makes sense. Bribery as a public policy is a feature, not a bug.
Clearly the writers of the 1st & 14th amendments had no intention of these laws being used for this purpose. It is a perverse agenda-driven analysis that sees a wealthy person's contributions to a political campaign as being worth more that someone donating pennies. Yet the conservatarian right continues to sound this cry, that being able to donate $1,000,000 to Sen. X's campaign will give you a quid pro quo with Sen. X after he/she is elected.
Yes, you can donate anything you want to a campaign. No, you can not expect anything in return except that your dollars are sepnt by the campaign.
Fools, idiots, bastards.