There’s something fascinating about this article from the New York Times on the Citizens United case. The author (Adam Liptak) noticed that the decision removed certain onerous restrictions on political speech, yet left current mandates on disclosure of funding largely intact. ‘Resolving’ the two led Liptak to this:
The two parts of Citizens United are not hard to harmonize. Citizens United takes the libertarian view that people may be trusted to evaluate the messages they hear and need not be sheltered from the responsibility of critical thinking. The theory is as applicable to the marketing of soda and cigarettes as it is to that of political candidates.
The five-justice majority in Citizens United said that speech about politics is at the core of what the First Amendment protects, that more speech is better than less and that the government has no business deciding who can speak or how much.
It is a small step from that reasoning to saying, as eight justices did, that it helps to know who is advancing the ideas you are evaluating.
I know, I know: you’re not a liberal reader of the New York Times, so you knew this already without being told. I’m just shocked that somebody from the NYT is willing to fight their own newspaper’s ferociously self-imposed epistemic closure by trying to explain to its audience that, hey, there’s actual coherency to the CU decision. I’m not shocked that the Liptak didn’t follow from there to the somewhat obvious position that the liberal judges who voted against free speech were being partisan idiots*. I’m not even particularly upset: the poor dears that still rely on the Old Gray Lady for their informational needs need to be rationed the truth the way that a starved man needs to be rationed high-calorie food when he’s finally rescued. Too much, too soon, and they’ll just throw it back up again.
*As I understand the partial Thomas dissent, his objection to upholding disclosure guidelines was that the strictures put into place for protecting against retaliation for inconvenient political speech were insufficient as protection. Put more simply, Thomas feels that even more of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act was unconstitutional, and not conducive to liberty. Not that Liptak bothered to explain that to his readers, either: although that may have just simply been because your average NYT has been carefully conditioned by now to see Thomas as a race traitor, so what’s the point?