Justice Scalia: Money Is Speech


[h/t Heather at VideoCafe]

There's something smarmy about a Supreme Court Justice opining from the television interview pit about decisions the court has made. No, not opining. Selling it. The whole nation loathes Citizens United, and so Scalia has taken to the airwaves with the hard sell. Of course, it doesn't hurt that he's also pimping his latest book for CNN viewers to rush right out and buy either.

No, our esteemed Supreme Court Justice actually did an interview with that respected legal scholar celebrity hack guy, Piers Morgan. Yes, surely Piers was up to that challenge. Or not.

After declaring that if he were King, Justice Scalia would ban flag-burning, he moved on to Citizens United, where Piers showed himself completely out of his league. The questions were almost custom-designed to let Scalia convince the adoring public that the Billion Dollar Presidential Campaign is AOK.

Here's the punch line:

SCALIA: You can't separate speech from -- from -- from the money that -- that facilitates the speech.

MORGAN: Can't you?

SCALIA: It's -- it's -- it's utterly impossible.

Piers Morgan let him get away with that! I cannot believe it.

Opening your mouth and saying something is speech. One does not require one billion dollars to say whatever the hell they want. Hey Piers and Justice Scalia, THE MONEY IS THE MICROPHONE. Nowhere does it say in the Constitution that the microphone is an integral part of speech.

What the heck does he think they did in the 17th century, walk around with a boom box?

Why is this so difficult for people to understand. We open our mouths, move our lips, and words come out. That is speech. We light a match, burn a flag, that is expression. Nowhere in either of those two events is it required that three cameras linked to a worldwide satellite hookup be part of the element of speech. Nowhere. It's simply intellectual dishonesty to say otherwise.

It would appear, however, that the good Justice is on the record with regard to disclosure, which makes the constant Republican blockage of the DISCLOSE Act that much more wanton and cynical:

SCALIA: Oh, I certainly think not. I think, as I think the framers thought, that the more speech, the better. Now, you -- you are entitled to know where the speech is coming from, you know, information as -- as to who contributed what. That's something else.

But whether they -- whether they can speak is, I -- I -- I think, clear in -- in the First Amendment.

Funny how we only get the "Money is Speech" part in this country and not the "You're entitled to know where the speech came from, eh? No, not funny. Pathetic.

And with regard to limits on speech, this little gem:

MORGAN: Is there any limit, in your eyes, to freedom of speech?

SCALIA: Oh, of course.

MORGAN: Is -- is there -- what are the limitations in -- to you?

SCALIA: I'm a textualist. And what the provision reads is, "Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech." So they had in mind a particular freedom. What -- what freedom of speech? The freedom of speech that was the right of Englishmen at that time. And--

So I'm curious as to how Justice Scalia reconciles the English Bill of Rights with his interpretation as stated in that answer. Here's the snippet from the English Bill of Rights:

...the freedom of speech and debates or proceedings in Parliament ought not to be impeached or questioned in any court or place out of Parliament...

Further, since he specifically referred to "the Englishman", I can only assume he gives no weight to the Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen adopted by France, which granted far more expansive rights of speech:

The free communication of ideas and opinions is one of the most precious of the rights of man. Every citizen may, accordingly, speak, write, and print with freedom, but shall be responsible for such abuses of this freedom as shall be defined by law.

Whatever Justice Scalia sees as the originalist meaning within our Bill of Rights, I simply fail to see how the amplifier becomes speech. Speech is an individual act of forming words and either saying or writing them. Expression is still an individual act, whether it's speech or a human being doing something which speaks to the crowd. But whether it's verbal, written, drawn, painted, acted, sung or danced, the act is the speech, and costs nothing.

The amplifier, on the other hand, costs plenty. It is that failure on Justice Scalia's part that has possibly cost us our democracy.


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