(Paul Jacob/Common Sense) – Whether in Washington State or in Washington, D.C., legislators regularly enact unconstitutional laws to suppress free speech.
Thankfully, courts often strike these restrictions down. It happened again on September 1, when a federal judge ruled that the Washington State’s limits on contributions made to Ballot Issue Committees during the last 21-day pre-election blitz is unconstitutional.
The plaintiff in the suit, FamilyPAC, said it had been limited in speaking out on Washington Referendum 71 (2009), a citizen-referred ballot measure to veto a state law regarding domestic partnerships. Specifically, FamilyPAC complained that state law had prevented its supporters from collecting funds to make their voices heard.
The judge ruled in their favor based on recent precedent as well as the clear wording of the First Amendment. Indeed, the case is so obvious, you have to ask: On what grounds was the initial regulation even proposed and voted in?
Well, Washington’s legislature, like the U.S. Congress, is filled with politicians who think they know best how to make politics work better. For them. This restriction barely bothers entrenched political interests. They are professionally organized enough to make their spending decisions early, and they like knowing that any last-minute effort by a less sophisticated individual or group will be blocked.
But when the politicians speak about such laws it sounds like they are taking a stand against “big corporations.”
Instead, they take a stand against citizens.
Thank goodness we have the courts!