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Gus Van Horn blog

Reblogged:HR 1 vs. the First Amendment

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Rich Lowry rightly decries HR-1, proposed by the new Democrat-run House in the name of campaign finance "reform," as the potent attack on freedom of speech that it is. Noting that even the ACLU opposes this bill, Lowry indicates that it compares poorly even against campaign finance laws already on the books:

If they really believed this, they would not threaten freedom of speech. (Image by 905513, via Pixabay, license.)
HR 1 cracks the whip. As the Institute for Free Speech points out, the current campaign-finance rules limit expenditures that expressly advocate for the election or defeat of a candidate or refer to a candidate in public advertising shortly before an election. The idea is to have clear rules, so groups can promote their views without fear of running afoul of federal regulations.

HR 1 blows up this regime.
It seeks to regulate any speech at any time that "promotes or supports the candidate, or attacks or opposes an opponent of the candidate," a fuzzy standard that could catch up all manner of non-electoral messages -- for example, "Trump's tariffs are a mistake," or "Support Trump's Wall."
Let's set aside the impropriety of having campaign finance law at all: Lowry's comparison is a chilling reminder of a point Ayn Rand made several times decades ago about the perils of what she called non-objective law, of which this is an example:
When men are caught in the trap of non-objective law, when their work, future and livelihood are at the mercy of a bureaucrat's whim, when they have no way of knowing what unknown "influence" will crack down on them for which unspecified offense, fear becomes their basic motive, if they remain in the industry at all -- and compromise, conformity, staleness, dullness, the dismal grayness of the middle-of-the-road are all that can be expected of them. Independent thinking does not submit to bureaucratic edicts, originality does not follow "public policies," integrity does not petition for a license, heroism is not fostered by fear, creative genius is not summoned forth at the point of a gun.

Non-objective law is the most effective weapon of human enslavement: its victims become its enforcers and enslave themselves.
It is fortunate that this measure is unlikely to become law, and it should serve as a reality check regarding Nancy Pelosi: She may seem like a comparative bulwark for liberty against some of the freshman Democrats, such as when she dismissed "the Green Dream or whatever they call it." Indeed, her comparative level-headedness actually poses a greater danger than her "aspirational" colleagues.

-- CAV

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