In re: Today on the docket

Today the Supreme Court is going to be hearing an important case regarding campaign financing in Vermont (also today is the Anna Nicole Smith probate case). Vermont spent a lot of time researching, debating and passing election laws that greatly restrict campaign donations (to $400) as well as spending limits for campaigns (governor was $300,000, other positions are less) (see Vermont Guide to Campaign Finance Law).

Anyway, there are a number of arguments against such laws, including the First Ammendment issue. I haven’t really had time to wrap my head around this, but generally ignoring any first amendment issues (suprisingly easy for me to do sometimes..) I am a huge proponent of such election reforms, in the UK they recieve their paltry election income from the government, and everyone is thus leveled and free from the US special interests.

The other issue is that our government must spend a lot of time fund raising. Of course, do we want to be providing fringe candidates with government money and giving them a soapbox? Well, free speech? who knows what would happen, but I like the Vermont laws generally, and as the NPR report this morning mentioned, in deciding on the limits Vermonters actually felt the $400 was a pretty high amount (a few weeks of grocerys they said), and we should also remember this is Vermont, not California, so running an election and getting your ‘free speech’ really doesn’t cost that much. So while I want to read up more on the issue, I feel that I’ll be firmly on the side of Vermont, although it seems likely that the court won’t be.

See article in Burlington Free Press , also check out the Election Law @ Mortiz site, posts on this subject.


One Response

  1. I am definately in favor of the limits on campaign spending. I think the free speech arguments are a little ironic/moronic since they are arguing to maintain a system that creates an institutional barrier by keeping out those who can’t AFFORD to place their arguments alongside traditional party candidates. If people are worried about wackos getting a soap-box, I would suggest raising the number of signatures required rather than maintaining the status quo on campaign fund raising.

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