Tuesday, September 30, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
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Did the Supreme Court ‘open the floodgates’ for unlimited campaign contributions?

The U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled 5-4 that a cap on the total amount of money donors can give to political campaigns – so-called “aggregate contribution limits” – are unconstitutional.

Such limits, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for the majority in McCutcheon v. FEC, “intrude without justification on a citizen’s ability to exercise the most fundamental First Amendment activities.” But Justice Stephen Breyer in his dissenting opinion warned the decision “undermines, perhaps devastates, what remains of campaign finance reform” and “will open a floodgate.”

The court maintained individual contribution limits, however; donors may still only give $2,600 to a candidate for federal office. But given the court’s latest decision, should there be any limits at all on money in politics? Or is it time to amend the Constitution? Ben Boychuk and Joel Mathis, the Red-Blue America columnists, weigh in.

Ben Boychuk

The Supreme Court this week didn’t quite kill campaign finance “reform.” Which is a pity. It should have.

It’s an article of faith among some liberals that the court in 2010 undid “100 years of precedent” in the unjustly maligned Citizens United v. FEC decision. They’re wrong.

Five justices recognized in that case that the point of the First Amendment is to use political speech to influence elections. (Burning flags and dancing topless are bonuses.) So the court tossed the arbitrary rules limiting how independent groups – such as Citizens United – may raise and spend money to shape public opinion.

This week, the court threw out another arbitrary and harmful burden on First Amendment speech. Federal law had capped at $48,600 the total amount one person could give to all federal candidates over a two-year election cycle. Why $48,600? Because Congress said so, that’s why.

Although speech may be free, influential speech costs money. Shawn McCutcheon, an engineer from Alabama, wanted to give $1,776 to a number of candidates. But his donations would have exceeded the federal cap, and so had to be stopped.

Justice Roberts in his opinion made the simple point that “the government may no more restrict how many candidates or causes a donor may support than it may tell a newspaper how many candidates it may endorse.” Obviously.

Ideally, there should be no limit on how much an individual can give to a political candidate. But unlimited money would require absolute and immediate transparency.

The rule should be that if you give to political campaigns, you must do so publicly. It would help guard against (but never truly eradicate) corruption. True, some donors would rather remain anonymous, for fear of harassment but sometimes for less than noble reasons. But for disclosure to be taken seriously, failure to comply should come with huge fines for donors and candidates.

If you really want to end the role of “big money” in politics, get politics out of “big money” and cut the size of government. Until then, let the money and the speech flow freely – as long as it’s disclosed completely.

Joel Mathis

Welcome to the New Gilded Age, folks.

To be fair: We already lived in a society where the middle class was shrinking, its income stagnant, while America’s richest citizens reaped a disproportionate share of the economy’s rewards while avoiding anywhere near a proportion of the responsibility they bore for nearly destroying the economy back in 2007.

The Supreme Court’s recent campaign finance rulings, though, put a feather in the cap of that trend – making it more difficult for grassroots movements to break through into the public consciousness, and giving America’s richest political activists near-unlimited influence over the workings of our government.

Some well-meaning advocates of the court’s decisions suggest that sunlight is the best disinfectant, that full disclosure of donors and their contributions will mitigate the damage that might be done by lifting the caps.

The problem? There are already efforts underway to extend a veil of secrecy to political donations, to preserve those donors from the horrors of having their political views made public.

The second problem? America’s system of campaign finance disclosure is, essentially, a well-meaning sham. A faculty paper last month from faculty at the Benjamin Cardozo School of Law concluded as much:

“We find that compliance with existing disclosure regulations is inconsistent and that the current regime fails to identify the most potentially influential players in the campaign finance system,” the authors wrote. “In so doing, the current system fails to provide basic facts about how candidates (and committees) finance their campaigns.”

There’s something we mostly hate in America: It’s called a “heckler’s veto” – generally understood to violate the spirit of the First Amendment – and it occurs when critics of a speaker become so loud and annoying that they drown out that speaker’s message.

The Supreme Court has now created a “plutocrat’s veto” – and in reality, it only expands free speech rights for those who can afford it. Those who can’t? Their voices are about to be drowned out.

Ben Boychuk (bboychuk@city-journal.org) is associate editor of the Manhattan Institute’s City Journal. Joel Mathis (joelmmathis@gmail.com) is associate editor for Philadelphia Magazine. Visit them on Facebook: www.facebook.com/benandjoel.

Ben Boychuk and Joel Mathis

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Solano News

Fairfield police log: Sept. 28, 2014

By Glen Faison | From Page: A12, 1 Comment

 
Fairfield police log: Sept. 27, 2014

By Glen Faison | From Page: A12, 1 Comment

Solano focuses on rail safety

By Barry Eberling | From Page:

 
Suisun City police log: Sept. 28, 2014

By Glen Faison | From Page: A12

Suisun City police log: Sept. 27, 2014

By Glen Faison | From Page: A12

 
Police search for missing man

By Glen Faison | From Page: A5 | Gallery

 
 
Measure A committee plans weekend precinct walk

By Susan Winlow | From Page: A5

Voters who have moved urged to check registration

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A5

 
Caltrans cancels nighttime Highway 37 closures

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A5

 
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US / World

5 more bodies found at Japan volcano; toll now 36

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

 
Group: Wildlife populations down drastically

By The Associated Press | From Page:

45 dogs dead, 48 alive after North Las Vegas fire

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Police link 2nd case to missing Va. student arrest

By The Associated Press | From Page:

Netanyahu: Hamas, Islamic State group share creed

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

 
Cancer doctor given 10 years for poisoning lover

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

Afghan president sworn in, paving way for US pact

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Police ease tactics in Hong Kong protest standoff

By The Associated Press | From Page:

Study: Recessions can postpone motherhood forever

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

 
White House intruder got far past front door

By The Associated Press | From Page: , 1 Comment

Obama efforts to oust Assad pushed to back burner

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Islamic State closes in on Kurdish area of Syria

By The Associated Press | From Page:

Sacramento police seek suspect in dog’s drowning

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Shooing birds from Bay Bridge could cost millions

By The Associated Press | From Page:

Governor signs bills to help those in foster care

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Mountain View police ID gas victims as father, son

By The Associated Press | From Page:

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Opinion

Editorial cartoons for Sept. 30, 2014

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page:

 
 
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Living

Today in History: Sept. 30, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
I’m unhappy with Phil and playing ‘happy family.’ What should I do?

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page:

Community Calendar: Sept. 30, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page:

 
Horoscopes: Sept. 30, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: B7

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Entertainment

Amanda Bynes arrested for DUI in Los Angeles

By The Associated Press | From Page: , 2 Comments | Gallery

 
They did. They do. Clooney/Alamuddin wedding No. 2

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

Football commands highest TV ad prices

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

 
TVGrid Sept 30

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B8

 
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Sports

Developer asks for more time for LA football plan

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Monday’s sports transactions

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Raiders fire coach Dennis Allen

By The Associated Press | From Page:

Prep boys soccer: VCS still looking for 1st win of season

By Daily Republic staff | From Page:

 
Charles sends Chiefs to 41-14 rout of Patriots

By The Associated Press | From Page:

Clippers return focus to team post-Sterling

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Giants have ample experience facing elimination

By The Associated Press | From Page:

Dover installs catch fence for 2015 NASCAR season

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Warriors happy to have core back, build on success

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

All-women sports show debuts with perfect timing

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Autopsy shows Chiefs LB Belcher had CTE damage

By The Associated Press | From Page:

AJ Hinch hired to manage Astros

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

 
Phil Mickelson saves best shot for his captain

By The Associated Press | From Page:

MLB batting average lowest since 1972 – before DH

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Wild, wild SEC West set for historic day

By The Associated Press | From Page:

Kershaw 1st to lead majors in ERA 4 straight years

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
AP source: 7 umpires rotate at World Series

By The Associated Press | From Page:

Pagenaud joins Penske for 2015 IndyCar season

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Texas’ Strong tells Goodell colleges can do better

By The Associated Press | From Page:

Hornets await NBA investigation into Taylor

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Trout, Strasburg giving playoffs a fresh look

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
NC State coach: No. 1 Florida State faked injuries

By The Associated Press | From Page:

A’s Lester, Royals’ Shields in AL wild-card focus

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Raiders’ season spinning out of control

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

Harbaugh dismisses reports of 49ers discord

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

 
3-way race for NL MVP; Trout takes his turn in AL

By The Associated Press | From Page:

Stewart never considered retiring after Ward death

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

 
Twins fire manager Ron Gardenhire after 13 seasons

By The Associated Press | From Page:

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Business

Bank of America paying $7.65M to resolve inquiry

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Microsoft to offer early look at next Windows

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

US stocks head lower, following drops overseas

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
US consumer spending up 0.5 percent in August

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

ATM fees keep climbing, survey says

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
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Obituaries

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Comics

Beetle Bailey Sept 30

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Garfield Sept 30

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

For Better or Worse Sept 30

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
B.C. Sept 30

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Wizard of Id Sept 30

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Sudoku Sept 30

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

Dilbert Sept 30

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Crossword Sept 30

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

Baby Blues Sept 30

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Baldo Sept 30

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Peanuts Sept 30

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Sally Forth Sept 30

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Cryptoquote Sept 30

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
Frank and Ernest Sept 30

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Pickles Sept 30

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Blondie Sept 30

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Zits Sept 30

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Get Fuzzy Sept 30

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Bridge Sept 30

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
Rose is Rose Sept 30

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Word Sleuth Sept 30

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
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Discover Solano Fall/Winter 2014

Discover Solano Fall 2014: Sonoma County

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