Wednesday, November 24, 2004
As Bruce Landis reports in the Providence Journal, the Rhode Island ACLU is challenging the constitutionality of the state's contribution limits for ballot initiatives and its prohibition on corporate contributions for ballot questions.
Although precedent exists for the ACLU's position that these provisions of Rhode Island law are unconstitutional, the ACLU's motivation in filing seems misguided given that organization's usual efforts to defend the civil rights of Americans. The group's official position is that any contribution limits in any political race are wrong on the grounds that it interferes with First Amendment rights.
What the ACLU ignores is what happens to the ability of regular citizens to have some voice in the political process when rich interests are able to pour unlimited money into campaigns. Without contribution limits, one wealthy individual or corporation can use their deep pockets to drown out the voices of thousands of American citizens who can't afford to give much more than $100, if that even.
What the ACLU seeks with this position, in effect, is the radical concentration of political power and voice in the hands of a smaller and smaller number of people. I wonder what its supporters would have to say about that?
For more information on the question of contribution limits on ballot initiatives, please check out this article by UCLA Professor Rick Hasen.