June 28, 2010

Transparency as a weapon

If you're looking for a great take on the recently House-approved DISCLOSE Act, check out Thomas Mitchell's piece:

On Thursday, the House passed the misnomer-labeled DISCLOSE Act (Democracy is Strengthened by Casting Light on Spending in Elections Act) as an end-run on the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United v. FEC, which shredded major portions, though not enough, of the McCain-Feingold gag-nonincumbents-act. The roll call shows Nevada’s Democratic reps Berkley and Titus voted for it, while Republican Heller exercised common sense.

The act requires all kinds of disclosures and on-camera endorsements of anyone who dares to speak up about political issues and candidates, while granting carefully crafted exemptions for a favored few groups such as the unions, the Sierra Club and the NRA.

He goes on to say that "[s]uch laws have nothing to do with free flow of information for the sake of the electorate and everything to do with laying down costly speed bumps for those who would challenge the orthodoxy of the establishment."

While it's good to have transparency in campaign donations for candidates, we shouldn't stifle free speech in the pursuit of that goal.

To further borrow from Mitchell's post, here is a video of Eugene Scalia elegantly speaking on the subject:

Transparency that informs and educates the public should be encouraged and facilitated. Transparency used as a weapon to stifle unwelcome speech should not be.