An Odd Argument



The 2nd Circuit Court ruled this past week that citizens united (yes, that Citizen’s United) must turn over its donor lists to the Attorney General of the State of New York.

Citizen’s United had argued that donations to the organization represented anonymous political speech, and therefore the state had no reason to have a law requiring that they turn these lists over to them. The state argued that such information is necessary to prevent fraud by non-profits and donors seeking to influence the politics of the State.

At least one Judge referred to the argument being made by Citizen’s United as “an odd argument.” In his question, the idea is that the 1st Amendment purpose it to encourage open dialogue and therefore what he calls “secret speech” has no place in the political arena.

So… is donating to a political non-profit “protected speech?” Is there a danger of retaliation, either by other private citizens or government officials? Does the secret donation make that speech more authoritative?

And what would James Madison, John Jay, Alexander Hamilton, Richard Henry Lee, George Clinton, Melancton Smith, Samuel Bryan and a host of others have thought about “secret speech” as an “odd argument?”


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