Does everyone remember Citizens United v. FEC? It’s the SCOTUS ruling that overturned the McCain-Feingold Act. Liberals complained loudly about the dangers of corporate money in politics (I think it’s fair to say we’re all concerned about money in politics), completely ignoring the fundamental facts of the specific case: In particular, that an independent organization had made a film critical of a powerful politician (“Hillary the Movie”), and the government tried to suppress that film. This was the very definition of political censorship, and it’s chilling to think that four of the nine Justices were okay with it.
Hillary’s latest words have prompted a Slate writer to reluctantly acknowledge that we’ve got a point. This is in an opinion piece, “Hillary’s Citizens United Criticism Makes It Sound Like She Hates Free Speech”. An embedded video clip shows a portion of Hillary’s concession speech in New Hampshire:
…Citizens United, one of the worst Supreme Court decisions in our country’s history, was actually a case about a right-wing attack on me and my campaign. A right-wing organization took aim at me and ended up damaging our entire democracy. So, yes, you’re not going to find anybody more committed to aggressive campaign finance reform than me…
The editorial states its “three really good reasons to hate Citizens United“, and this reinforces the general liberal detached-from-reality abstractions. Having established ideological purity, it gets to the point:
Instead of relying on these rationales, Clinton concocted a fourth: Citizens United was bad because it let a corporation attack my candidacy. The decision’s defenders jumped immediately. (“Hillary Clinton: Citizens United Is Tragic for America Because It Allowed People to Criticize Me,” blared one Reason headline.) And rightly so: Clinton seemed to confirm everything Citizens United apologists have been saying for years. She essentially acknowledged that she hated the ruling because it allowed a corporation to disseminate harshly disparaging speech against her. But protection for harshly disparaging political speech is the bedrock of the First Amendment. The real problem with Citizens United was not the speech itself, but the way it was funded. By admitting that her real problem with the ruling was the content of the speech it allowed, Clinton confirmed the fears of the Citizens United majority: that a limit on corporate electioneering “uses censorship to control thought.” In attempting to criticize the decision, she inadvertently proved why it might actually be right.
I have to salute the liberal author for open-minded intellectual honesty here, although the use of a few soft words is worth mentioning. First, the title: “Hillary’s Citizens United Criticism Makes It Sound Like She Hates Free Speech”. I’d go further than that; it’s worse than sounding like she hates free speech; the law she’s supporting would have jailed her critics. But perhaps the author didn’t choose this title; the words in the link suggest the original title may have been “Hillary Clinton on Citizens United was Terrible and Terrifying”. But note the later wording: “…Clinton seemed to confirm everything Citizens United apologists have been saying for years. She essentially acknowledged that she hated the ruling because it allowed a corporation to disseminate harshly disparaging speech against her…” Always pay attention to these squishy words; this is the journalist giving you some hint as to how you’re supposed to assimilate the story. It’s an editorial, so of course it’s the author’s job to push an opinion; I’m merely pointing out a few of the subtle nuances of how it’s done.
This is amazingly vile. Mrs. Clinton considers it a virtue that she wants to censor her critics. pic.twitter.com/p8QtBjD9oY
— James Taranto (@jamestaranto) February 10, 2016