In America, the only thing you should need to talk about politics is an opinion. But unfortunately far too many states view freedom of speech not as a right, but a privilege that they can regulate, license and control. Today, the Institute for Justice has launched a nationwide Citizen Speech Campaign that will vindicate the First Amendment rights of all Americans through strategic research, outreach and litigation.
Watch and Share IJ's New Campaign Finance Video "Camp Politics"
One state that is in desperate need of help is Florida. Unfortunately, residents of the SunshineState “enjoy” some of the worst campaign finance laws in the nation. For instance, whenever two or more people join together to spend money speaking out about a ballot issue, they must first register with the government and comply with complex organizational, administrative, and reporting requirements under the threat of fines and even possible jail time. These laws in effect turn politics into an insiders’ game.
No one should have to suffer these burdens in order to speak. After all, advocating for or against a ballot issue is core political speech that lies at the heart of the First Amendment. To vindicate this right, the Institute for Justice has brought a federal lawsuit on behalf of Nathan Worley, Pat Wayman, John Scolaro and Robin Stublen, four members of a Tampa-area political group who want to run radio ads against a land-use measure that is on the November ballot. Florida’s campaign finance laws, though, say that as soon as they raise $500, they must jump through government-created hoops in order to speak.
Florida’s regulation of core political speech has turned the First Amendment on its head. When the Constitution said “Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech,” it secured the right of every American to speak as loudly and as much as he or she wants. But under Florida’s campaign-finance laws, people must hire lawyers and accountants in order to speak. Campaign finance laws affect everyone, not just professional politicians. By joining with the Institute for Justice, Nathan, Paul, John and Robin hope not only to vindicate their own First Amendment rights, but the rights of all Floridians.