Money on the First Amendment

by Don Boudreaux on September 19, 2009

in Law, Myths and Fallacies

Speaking in favor of government restrictions on the amount of money corporations may spend to promote their interests in the political sphere, Mo Lotman argues — in this letter to the Boston Globe — that “Corporations are not at all prohibited from saying what they like; they are merely restricted, rightly, from the amount of money they can spend to amplify their speech.”

Rubbish.

Suppose Congress passed legislation to limit the amount of money newspapers spend on printing presses, reporters, and website maintenance.  Would Mr. Lotman not see such a statute as violating the First amendment – as restricting newspapers’ ability to speak to the public?  If not, shame on him.  But if so, how would he distinguish this hypothetical legislation from the restrictions that he defends?

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