First Amendment Center gets it wrong on Montana political money

In an amusingly-entitled post about “What was right” about the SCOTUS ruling on Montana’s political donations limit, they offer this nugget of wisdom:

What was right about high court’s Montana ruling | First Amendment Center – news, commentary, analysis on free speech, press, religion, assembly, petition

Far better to seek remedies that respect the First Amendment while powering a near-automatic disinfectant to the potential corruption of “big money”: Transparency. In an age when deposits and debits to individual bank accounts are nearly instantly recorded, there’s no reason — except a lack of public pressure and political will — to make all campaign contributions immediately visible to all. As connectivity and data management improve exponentially each year, contribution information could be logged, organized and made available to everyone in real-time — instead of using the months-later system we have now, mandated by old-fashioned campaign regulations.

Indeed, transparency is a good thing. But free speech also includes the right to privacy, as has been long-established in our code of law. That is, unless we’d like to undo that law as well?

Journalists and news fans will be familiar with this law as the Freedom of Information Act or FOIA. We generally think of it as protecting the citizen’s right to information from the government, but between its passage in 1966 and the subsequent amendments in 1974, the bill is actually our framework for both our right to information and our equal right to privacy. And its hard to imagine how – if indeed money is considered free speech – it isn’t also considered speech that is protected under these same privacy laws?

This isn’t one of those areas where you get to give easy answers. Political speech is, as noted in the article, the most protected of all speech in America. But the needs of political discourse are sometimes at odds with the guileless literal reading of the Constitution, which is why thinking is so important. I wish they would have put a little more thinking into this article.