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Letters: Taking issue with money and speech

The Supreme Court Building in Washington, D.C. on

The Supreme Court Building in Washington, D.C. on March 31, 2012. Credit: Getty Images

I'm responding to "Free speech goes beyond the press" [Opinion, April 9]. This column by Lane Filler strangely conflated free speech in the form of unlimited anonymous corporate money funneled directly to candidates or their dark money groups with the free speech enjoyed by editorial boards and newspaper opinion pages.

Supreme Court Justices Samuel Alito and Antonin Scalia view the influence of money on politics through a bizarre lens. Their seemingly oblivious view that money doesn't corrupt politicians is surreal and even quaint.

Further, a corporation does not have rights, people do. Corporations are statutory creations, fictions of law created by people for protection. They should not be given the same rights as people.

Since we will need to cope with the reality of the obscene amounts of cash slithering into our elections, we must not allow it to be anonymous.

Thomas Ram, Bay Shore

Editor's note: The writer is a lawyer.

I found Lane Filler's column to be off base. The framers of the Constitution could scarcely have imagined how media would develop -- newspapers were barely available to many, illiteracy was widespread. Radio? Television? The Internet?

If we all had equal bank accounts, and could therefore equally support our own causes with cash, the Supreme Court rulings in Citizens United and McCutcheon might make sense. But given the fact that 99 percent of this country's citizens could never equal the political contributions of the rich, it is no longer a free-speech issue, but rather an issue of equal rights.

Political donations, advertisements and other paid speech are influence pedaling, and it seems that buying our governing bodies has gotten easier, thanks to our Supreme Court.

June Zeger, East Meadow

Lane Filler has missed a key point. It's true that "liberal Hollywood" has a unique platform to deliver political messages at propitious times, but the public had to pay to receive that message in the form of a movie ticket. It is logical to assume that only the sympathetic are interested in being preached to.

By contrast, the political messages delivered by television and radio arrive and are received unsolicited in nearly every car, home or bar.

Spending limits are the only way to provide a level playing field in our political campaign system, and piles of money only tilt the field.

Jon Zipkin, Bay Shore