The Corner

Politics & Policy

Defending the First Amendment against Another ‘Progressive’ Attack

Fresh from its triumph over poverty with its $15-per-hour minimum wage (kidding), Seattle has come up with another progressive way of making society better — a tax on property owners that funds “democracy vouchers.” Those are vouchers that residents (not necessarily property owners) can hand over to their favorite candidates for city council and city attorney. This takes money from people to finance the political speech of others. The Supreme Court has often held against schemes that entail forced speech and Pacific Legal Foundation is fighting the good fight against this one.

I write about the case in my latest Forbes article.

Jefferson wrote, “It is sinful and tyrranical to compel a man to furnish money for the propagation of ideas he disbelieves in.” The context was taxes to support state religions, but the thought applies with equal force to compulsory union dues used for politics (which the Court has tried to stop) and for taxes to enable politicians to spread messages you don’t approve of. (One of the plaintiffs owns rental property in the city and is dismayed that so far the main recipient of these “democracy vouchers” is a housing activist running for city council who wants tenants to have “collective bargaining rights.”)

Let us hope that this lousy idea is nipped in the bud.

George Leef is the the director of editorial content at the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal.