Monday’s U.S. Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission was a welcome victory for free speech and the First Amendment.
By overturning byzantine prohibitions against the very type of fundamental electioneering speech most valued by our Founding Fathers when they drafted the First Amendment itself, the court reclaimed enormous territory in freedom’s war against incumbent-protecting censorship.
While welcome, however, the decision also carries political implications about which conservatives must remain alert. Liberals, predictably, hysterically focus upon the sinister prospect of free speech for those big, bad, evil corporations that actually employ people and produce things. For instance, resident MSNBC village idiot Keith Olbermann rendered himself not only the world’s worst person, but also the most idiotic, when he suggested the decision was even worse than the infamous Dred Scott slavery decision of 1857.
But apart from the Olbermann crowd’s inanity, one negative prospect is Big Labor’s new ability to engage in direct electioneering communications.
Don’t get me wrong—union bosses should be just as free as other groups to exercise their free speech rights, so long as the dollars used to fund that speech aren’t forcibly wrenched from reluctant members’ wages. As long as Big Labor isn’t afforded particularized protected status, fair is fair.
Nevertheless, expect new union efforts to not only flood the airwaves, but also to increase the amount of members’ dues used to fund those efforts, as well as even more pressure to enact legislative agenda items. In particular, we can anticipate all new efforts to enact card-check, which would literally eliminate the secret ballot in union elections, and empower federal bureaucrats to dictate wages and working conditions via mandatory arbitration. In 2008 alone, two unions—the AFL-CIO and SEIU—spent $58 million of their hard-working members’ wages on political campaigns.
They’ll only scheme to increase that amount now.
Card-check legislation appeared all but dead, but this device to increase Big Labor’s membership rolls, and consequently the amount of money it can spend electing liberals across the country, will receive even more push now.
I applaud the Supreme Court’s decision, but we conservatives must remain wary of Big Labor’s upcoming campaign.
Timothy Lee is Vice President of Legal and Public Affairs at the Center for Individual Freedom. This piece originally ran here.