US Government: “We Can Ban Books”
Dep. Solicitor General Argues Jailing Book Publishers Is Constitutional
During Tuesday’s oral arguments in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the government told the Supreme Court that it has the constitutional authority to send a commercial book publisher to prison for publishing a book that contains the words “Vote for _____” within two months of an election.
Below are selected editorials and op-eds from around the country supporting Citizens United’s position against the Federal Election Commission on this critical First Amendment issue.
To arrange for an interview with David Bossie, President of Citizens United, please contact 202.547.5420.
USA TODAY OP-ED: Top court reviews 'Hillary, the movie' 3/26/09 It isn't often that a government lawyer stands before the Supreme Court and acknowledges that yes, it would be constitutional to ban a book. But that is what happened on Tuesday, as Deputy Solicitor General Malcolm Stewart defended a campaign-reform law that treated an anti-Hillary Clinton movie in 2008 as an election ad — an advertisement that could be restricted, even banned, because a corporation paid for it.
According to Deputy Solicitor General Malcolm Stewart, who argued the case, the government could theoretically regulate other forms of pre-election corporate speech as well, including books and the Internet. "That's pretty incredible," said Justice Samuel Alito. "You think that if a book was published, a campaign biography that was the functional equivalent of express advocacy, that could be banned?" Yes, Mr. Stewart said, if a corporation or union were paying for it. It would be possible to "prohibit the publication of the book using the corporate treasury funds."
Deputy Solicitor General Malcolm Stewart's argument before the court on behalf of the Federal Election Commission that the government could use the law to stop the distribution of election-related books, electronic media to an Amazon Kindle reader, and even ads for action figures representing candidates for federal office if they are paid for by corporate funding, is incredibly disconcerting.
The debate over the First Amendment implications of campaign-finance law reached its logical terminus in oral arguments before the Supreme Court Tuesday when lawyers for the federal government said it should be able to ban books. . . . Deputy Solicitor General Malcom Stewart said it does not matter how long a campaign commercial is, and it does not matter if the film is a quasi-documentary. A movie is no different from a campaign ad if it appeals to voters for the election or defeat of a political candidate.