On SCOTUS vs. POTUS and the Disclose Act
*The following was my opening monologue to start my internet radio show “Gillespie” airing Tuesdays at 7pm on FTRradio.com. In case you miss the show I will be posting these here every Wednesday following the Tuesday show.*
This week’s commentary is about a bill that recently passed in the U.S. House that threatens one of the fundamental rights guaranteed to every one of us under the U.S. Constitution. More specifically, I’m referring to our fundamental right to free speech.
I know, I know, you’re thinking “Gillespie, you’re not telling us anything that we didn’t already know. What is the Obama Administration about if it isn’t about subverting the Constitution?” And you know what? I couldn’t really argue with you on that one. It seems like every time we turn around this administration is scheming over new ways to trample on a document that many of us consider as one of the most important ever written.
But, one of the reasons this bill interests me is that it points out a blatant hypocrisy that is endemic with liberalism in general, and this administration in particular: This notion that we have to “do something” or else, and who cares about the consequences.
Now, flash back to the State of the Union address that President Obama gave earlier this year. One of the most talked about scenes was when the President scolded the members of the Supreme Court as if they were lowly interns, ignoring the fact that the Judicial branch (headed by the Supreme Court) is an EQUAL branch of government, not a branch subservient to the Executive branch. Ignoring for the moment how a graduate of Harvard Law and alleged Constitutional law instructor could be that ignorant, was I alone in being appalled by this blatant slap at our nation’s most distinguished jurists?
That sad affair was a result of the court’s ruling in a case called “Citizens United”. While the court seems to feel that most political speech can be regulated (per it’s ruling on McCain-Feingold) it does seem to feel that corporations have a right to freedom of expression. Not being a former part-time Constitutional law instructor like our President, I don’t feel qualified to explain the difference, but just go with me on this one.
So, not wanting to let another crisis go to waste, the White House convinced its allies in the House to pass this latest travesty of legislation, the so-called “Disclose Act” or HR 5175 in legislative parlance. This bill requires that every piece of politically-related advertising include the actual major contributors who paid for the commercial. In other words, if I, Josh Gillespie were to run a television commercial under my fictional 527 group “Josh for Indiana”, I would have to personally appear at the end of the spot telling you on camera that I, Josh Gillespie, paid for this ad. Ignoring the reality of every political ad including 15 seconds of this silliness, I haven’t gotten to the best part yet:
This bill exempts three major groups from its requirements: Unions (shockingly enough), the National Rifle Association and proving that a good lobbyist is worth his weight in gold, the Humane Society.
Yeah, you heard that correctly. In a lame attempt to get a few weak Republicans on board, the Democrats in the House actually put in an exemption for the hated NRA. I can only imagine what Charlton Heston is thinking up in the Great Rifle Range in the Sky.
However, that silly attempt to placate the Right may end up being this bill’s undoing. While the Supreme Court has sided against free speech in the past (just think McConnell v Federal Election Commission), the trigger in making this bill unconstitutional might just well be a clear and blatant violation of The Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution.
In the end, the Democrats haste to “do something” will eventually backfire on them, in what will be another GOP campaign commercial this fall.