The Corner

Movie Ads or Political Ads?

One TAPped contributor reports that ads for Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11 have quite an anti-Bush impact, expecially when viewed in combination with Kerry ads. More fodder for those seeking to restrict ads for Moore’s latest crockumentary under campaign finance laws.

Just in case there is any question about my views on the subject, I believe the restrictions on political advertising adopted as part of the McCain-Feingold law are an abomination, and arguably the most troublesome aspect of existing campaign-related restrictions on speech. Furthermore, I believe the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold these provisions is utterly irreconcilable with the text and purpose of the First Amendment. Nonetheless, this is the law, and it should be enforced. With luck, the controversy over Moore’s ads will demonstrate that the “no free speech for thee, only for me(dia)” principle embraced by Congress and the Court is untenable. Moore does have a First Amendment right to advertise his film and seek to prevent Bush’s reelection. So, too, do all Americans that would seek to influence the outcome of an election through paid advertising and other media efforts. If only the Supreme Court had recognized the point.

Jonathan H. Adler — Mr. Adler is an NRO contributing editor and the inaugural Johan Verheij Memorial Professor of Law at Case Western Reserve University School of Law. His latest book is Marijuana Federalism: Uncle Sam and Mary Jane.

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