The Occupy Wall Streeters — Destroying the First Amendment

The “Occupy Wall Street” protestors have put their platform online with an apparent list of demands. One of those demands -- an immediate ban on all private campaign contributions to political candidates -- shows a woeful ignorance and virtual contempt for basic rights protected by the Bill of Rights.

They also call for:

The immediate reversal, even if it requires a Constitutional Amendment, of the outrageous and anti-democratic holding in the "Citizens United" case by the Supreme Court, which equates the payment of money by corporations, wealthy individuals, and unions to politicians with free speech. We, the People, demand that institutional bribery and corruption not be deemed protected speech.

Subject to the above ban on all private money and gifts in politics, to enact additional campaign finance reform requiring free air time and public campaign finances to all candidates who obtain sufficient petition signatures and/or votes to participate in the primaries and/or electoral process, to shorten the campaign season and to allow voting on weekends and holidays.

The OWS protestors don’t seem to understand (or don’t care) that the First Amendment provides that Congress shall make no law “abridging the freedom of speech” or “the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”  That includes the ability to not only speak out on political issues and the merits of candidates for public office, but to spend money on persuading others about the merits of those candidates or helping them get elected through campaign contributions.

Americans have the right to associate with others who share their beliefs. Freedom of speech is not limited to just individuals, but also to the many other forms in which American associate, from unions to corporations to organizations such as the NAACP, the Sierra Club, or the National Rifle Association.

These demands are more than just pernicious proposals by protestors who want to destroy the economic and personal freedom that has helped make us a great nation. They are unconstitutional attempts to limit the ability of Americans to associate with others or to petition and otherwise lobby the government on many important public policy issues.  The OWS protesters are themselves benefiting from the right to associate and speak that they now seek to deny to others.