|Justice John Paul Stevens (Getty images)|
Justice John Paul Stevens (Ret.) took his campaign for an amendment to the Constitution to the Senate yesterday. His statement is HERE. Amy Howe reports.
In discussions among colleagues on the editorial board of the New Jersey Law Journal I have cited the New England Town Meeting as an ideal of the open forum where each has a chance. Justice Stevens develops the argument along similar lines:
We can safely assume that all of our candidates for public office are law-abiding citizens and that our laws against bribery provide an adequate protection against misconduct in office. It is fundamentally wrong to assume that preventing corruption is the only justification for laws limiting the First Amendment rights of candidates and their supporters. Elections are contests between rival candidates for public office. Like rules that govern athletic contests or adversary litigation, those rules should create a level playing field. The interest in creating a level playing field justifies regulation of campaign speech that does not apply to speech about general issues that is not designed to affect the outcome of elections. The rules should give rival candidates – irrespective of their party and incumbency status – an equal opportunity to persuade citizens to vote for them. Just as procedures in contested litigation regulate speech in order to give adversary parties a fair and equal opportunity to persuade the decision-maker to rule in their favor, rules regulating political campaigns should have the same objective. In elections, the decision-makers are voters, not judges or jurors, but that does not change the imperative for equality of opportunity. - JPS- gwc
Justice Stevens goes to the Senate : SCOTUSblog:
by Amy Howe
"It was an opportunity that Supreme Court advocates would have killed for: the chance to make your case uninterrupted for nearly eight-and-a-half minutes. But this time the advocate was retired Justice John Paul Stevens, headlining a hearing by the Senate Rules and Administration Committee on campaign finance issues. In the first such hearing on Capitol Hill since the Supreme Court’s April 2 ruling striking down the federal aggregate limits on contributions to political parties, political action committees, and candidates for federal office, the ninety-four-year-old Stevens – wearing his trademark bow tie – sat alone at the table and poured himself a glass of water before launching into his prepared statement."'via Blog this'