IJ’s victory last Monday before the U.S. Supreme Court in our challenge to Arizona’s so-called “Clean Elections” law was a big win for people who believe that the First Amendment prohibits government from burdening spending on political speech. It was also a strong reaffirmation of the principle that “Individual freedom finds tangible expression in property rights.” The First Amendment would be largely meaningless if government could impose burdens on the use of property—whether in the form of money, or computers, or newsprint and ink—to broadcast speech beyond the range of our individual voices.
The idea that money is often a critical component to the meaningful exercise of rights is hardly a modern insight. Our Founding Fathers were well aware of the connection between property and political advocacy. Indeed, this recognition is reflected in the closing words of the Declaration of Independence:
And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm Reliance on the Protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.
Here’s wishing everyone a safe and happy Independence Day.
Image Source: timkelley