(1) "Speech" and "Money," Obvious Synonyms According to the Supreme Court
Recently the U.S. Supreme Court majority decided that donating money to a candidate was somehow an expression of freedom of speech. Thus no limits could theoretically be placed on the amount of the donation. Otherwise, Congress would be passing a law "abridging freedom of speech," something expressly forbidden in the Constitution's First Amendment.
Their "reasoning," if I may take the liberty of calling it that, depended on the idea that if one donates a large sum of money to a candidate, that one must agree with that candidate. Unfortunately, none of the majority "Justices," if I may take the liberty of calling these judges that, can say for certain whether that the donor agrees with the candidate or not. What he can say is that the donor certainly hopes that the candidate agrees with him after his generous "free" gift! Even more uncertain, if donations to candidates are merely gestures of agreement and as such, free expressions of speech, then why can't Supreme Court Justices legally accept these "free" tokens of speech from their generous donors? Why is poor Clarence Thomas forced to accept donations through his lobbyist wife. I mean, in his case, he really did have the same opinion before and after those welcome gratuities.
(2) "Voting" As "Freedom of Speech"
At any rate, "Unofficial Constitutional Law" states: "Violation of the Constitution always comes back, sooner or later, to bite one in the ass. It just takes longer sometimes than others." So, if paying a candidate, an admittedly questionable act ( a 5-4 decision), is considered "speech," then voting for somebody is certainly an expression of freedom of speech (a 9-0 decision, however reluctant some Justices might be to admit it)! Therefore, instead of bringing up arguments regarding Republican attempts to restrict voting in various states and debating about whether they are violating purposely vague laws, let us go to the heart of the problem, the violation of the First Amendment. Any purposeful attempts to make it harder for citizens to vote must be examined by the courts before they are enacted. Some issues, such as voter I.D.'s sound quite reasonable. They probably don't ultimately violate even the spirit of most legitimate voting regulations, but in an attempt to rush the legislation and its enforcement, Republicans have revealed their true motive: to keep poor people and elderly folks from voting. In fact, whatever their motivation, considering that voting is the ultimate expression of freedom of speech, even abridging the freedom "accidentally on purpose" is a "no no." Permitting gun licenses, but not student university I.D.'s as voter identification, in fact, certainly looks like a willful violation of civil rights to me and probably should result in appropriate punishment for the offending legislators.
(3) The Florida Legislature Warns: Uncontrolled League of Women Voters May Represent Threat to United States of America, Incorporated! /Group May Register Too Many New Voters/ Governor Calls for More Arrests To Help Finance Private Prisons
Meanwhile the situation in Florida is even more bizarre, not so much because of the legislature's famous reputation for illiteracy and ignorance of law, but for their unexpected ingenuity. Instead of harassing the voters as they attempt to register, they are deliberately making it more difficult for The League of Women Voters and other non-partisan community service organizations to help people to register! The "helper" must report within 48 hours, every person she has assisted in registering to vote, otherwise she is subject to fines and even more serious punishment such as imprisonment. This obvious assault, ultimately, on freedom of speech, has virtually eliminated most voter registration drives in the state.
This situation forces me to ask the question: Are the new privatized Florida prisons so desperate to fill their cells that they need to incarcerate those terribly dangerous femme fatales of the League of Women Voters? How much are private prison owners donating in gifts of free speech to Republican legislators to invent new crimes destined to fill those prisons as well as the pockets of their owners in the new United States of America, Incorporated?
Al Finkelstein, 4/19/12