Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Herald-Leader responds to yesterday's Supreme Court rulings

Not-so-free speech
Rulings favor special interests, not citizens

It's noteworthy that President Bush's Supreme Court is picking and choosing which free speech to protect.

Chief Justice John Roberts and the majority rose to the defense of the kind of speech that's fueled by millions of special-interest dollars. But they slapped down a high school student who was suspended for hoisting a cryptically goofy "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" sign at a non-school event.

A court that truly puts the First Amendment first would have honored precedent and ruled that the Constitution gives students the right to free expression. Instead, the court perceived a dangerous pro-drug message in the parody banner.

The court also abandoned precedent to clear the way for unlimited amounts of special-interest money to pour into the final weeks of political campaigns under the guise of so-called issue ads. Often bankrolled by corporations and unions, these ads clearly malign one candidate without specifically advocating voting for a particular opponent.

Roberts said: "Where the First Amendment is implicated, the tie goes to the speaker, not the censor."

He should have added except when the speaker is an average person with no bankroll to back up his words.
Cartoon by Joel Pett.

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