Court's campaign finance ruling a free speech victory

July 08, 2011

Despite the contention of op-ed writer Christopher J. Peters that the Supreme Court's decision to rescind the matching funds program in the Arizona Clean Elections Act "chip[s] away at our authority to govern ourselves," the separation of campaign and state is a vital safeguard that ensures that the people — not the government — have the final say in how they're governed ("Overrule the Supreme Court," July 6).

Mr. Peters takes great pains in denigrating the decision as bad constitutional interpretation, but not once does he mention the First Amendment, the part of the Constitution that the matching funds program threatened. Handing out extra funds to one candidate simply because their opponent is speaking "too much," according to some, is clearly a violation of the principle that the government should not try to manage political speech in this country.

Mr. Peters is right when he acknowledges that the worry from the Supreme Court was that these programs would empower incumbents and the government to decide who should have a larger voice in the election process and who should be quieted. With the striking down of the Arizona provision, it is the authority of the system that has been chipped away — and placed back in the hands of the people.

Sean Parnell, Alexandria, Va.

The writer is president of the Center for Competitive Politics.

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