Newspeak and the Supreme Court


Kevin D. Williamson
National Review Online
April 3, 2014

If I seem to have had Orwell on the brain lately, it is because his eternal relevance is particularly intense at the moment.

Consider Dahlia Lithwick’s argument in Slate, and, by extension and more important, Justice Breyer’s argument, on the matter of the McCutcheon decision. Regarding the question of corruption, Lithwick writes:

If dollars are speech, and billions are more speech, then billionaires who spend money don’t do so for the mere joy of making themselves heard, but because it offers them a return on their investment. We. All. Know. This.

. . . Breyer is quick to call out the chief justice’s narrow reading of quid pro quo corruption, noting that Roberts specifically excludes any efforts to “garner ‘influence over or access to’ elected officials or political parties” . . . . Breyer tersely writes: “Speech does not exist in a vacuum. Rather, political communication seeks to secure government action. A politically oriented ‘marketplace of ideas’ seeks to form a public opinion that can and will influence elected representatives.” The First Amendment doesn’t protect speech for its own sake, he continues: “The First Amendment advances not only the individual’s right to engage in political speech, but also the public’s interest in preserving a democratic order in which collective speech matters.”

In short: Political activism must be suppressed, because it might be effective.

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