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August 29, 2006
FEC Kills Political Speech During Elections

As expected, the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act has forced the courts to issue a prior restraint against political speech during an election campaign. Mark Tapscott caught the story out of Washington, and laments the corrosive effect that the McCain-Feingold bill has had on freedom of speech:

Federal election regulators refused to ease limits on political advertising Tuesday, blocking an effort to let interest groups run radio and television ads mentioning elected officials within weeks of an election.

The Federal Election Commission voted 3-3 on a proposal that would have allowed such ads as long as they addressed public policy issues and did not promote, support, oppose or attack a sitting member of Congress. Supporters of the change said they wanted to strike a balance between campaign ad restrictions and constitutional free speech guarantees.

The measure failed on a tie vote with the commission's three Democrats voting against the proposal and the three Republicans backing it.

More than any other action from the BCRA, this demonstrates how the bill operates as a government-imposed safety net for incumbents. Who would have guessed ten years ago that Congress would pass a bill that would silence people who wanted to publish criticisms of incumbent politicians? Ten years ago, people wanted to implement term limits!

Mark believes that this will bury McCain's chances among conservatives for the presidential nomination in 2008. McCain had a big hill to climb in that regard anyway, but this does serve as a reminder of the kind of policy we will see from a McCain administration. His reformist bent produced the first limits on normal political speech and activity since the Sedition Act of 1918. Oddly, the same people who complain about "chill winds" when the Bush Administration answers its critics fall strangely silent when it comes to the real attack on free political speech that McCain's twisted approach to campaign finance reform represents.

In the debacle that has become the BCRA, all branches of government has blame. Congress passed it, Bush signed it, and somehow the Supreme Court found nothing unconstitutional about denying people the ability to publish criticisms about sitting politicians. Anyone who supports this legislation has no business in the White House, where they could do even more damage.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at August 29, 2006 8:48 PM

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» Is it Tuesday already? (Continuously updated throughout the day) from Old War Dogs
Feels like another Monday. Some days there just ain't enough coffee. I put a lot of time, and a lot of me, into those last two posts last night. Sitting here with Still in Saigon doing an endless loop in [Read More]

Tracked on August 29, 2006 11:34 PM

» McCain and Free Speech from
Mark Tapscott catches the FEC using campaign finance law to limit free speech and provide heightened protection for incumbents, which prompts Ed Morrissey to observe that campaign finance reformer John McCain produced the first limits on normal politic... [Read More]

Tracked on August 30, 2006 1:32 PM


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