Opinion

DISCLOSE will chill speech

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John Samples
Director, The Cato Institute's Center for Representative Government
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      John Samples

      John Samples directs Cato's Center for Representative Government, which studies campaign finance regulation, delegation of legislative authority, term limits, and the political culture of limited government and the civic virtues necessary for liberty. He is an adjunct professor at Johns Hopkins University. Samples is the author of The Struggle to Limit Government: A Modern Political History (forthcoming) and The Fallacy of Campaign Finance Reform.

We should keep in mind here the difference between contributions and “independent expenditures.” Foreign-owned companies do not and will not have the right to make campaign contributions to candidates or political parties.

Perhaps they should have the right, however, to spend money interjecting ideas and arguments into American political debate. Citizens have the right, of course, to reject the speech of foreign-owned companies. But should Congress have the power to make sure such ideas and arguments are never heard?

This gambit to chill speech may work. But we hope that the American people might recognize the realities of this deeply cynical bill. If not, we might still hope that the Supreme Court will recall the words they are bound by oath to uphold, “Congress may make no law abridging…the freedom of speech.”

John Samples is director of the Center for Representative Government at the Cato Institute in Washington DC and the author of the recently published book, “The Struggle to Limit Government.”