Buckley v. Valeo, & Burris v. U.S. Senate

by Steve Finefrock - [scriptwriter]
Better than a century of campaign finance reform [CFR] legislation has floated on the dubious detritus of judicial jacobins’ ‘logic’ that infringing on the First Amendment can be allowed in order to prevent the mere “appearance of corruption” of the electoral process. While the jacobins keep the First Amendment strict and pure and untainted in almost every other realm – even pornographers and seditionists are protected more severely than are political pamphleteers – this same reasoning escapes the reasoning of the folks slamming the secretary of state of Illinois.

A so-called minor signature is the center-ring of the controversy surrounding Illinois’ prospective “junior senator” of 72 years age, Roland Burris, seeking to become the lone black senator in our national capitol. So many disregard the legal tradition of a state’s secretary of state signing such a critical document for the Senate to consider it a valid submission: that is equivalent of a notary public vouching for the validity of signatures and other aspects of a legally enforceable document.

A mere hundred years of Senate rules requiring that signature on official papers certifying a new senator’s credentials suddenly is considered irrelevant. Odd, no one objected before.

However, now that a black man is missing the ages-old required signature, suddenly it’s unnecessary. But this is not the key to the embargo of Burris from the Senate. The entire reasoning of SCOTUS [Supreme Court of the United States – Secret Service official designation] in Buckley v. Valeo, and earlier precedents regarding prior CFR endorsements, revolved around the faintest semblance of a hint of any tiniest ‘appearance’ of corruption.

And if it’s good enough legal “reasoning” for SCOTUS to endorse laws which tell thee and me how much we can contribute to the candidate of our choice, why doesn’t the same “reasoning” apply when there’s a potful of corruption that “appears” to be of paramount presence in the state of Illinois?

Too many folk in the commentariat, on both sides of the political divide, believe the secretary state’s signature is a ‘mere formality’ – might that notary public’s signature be soon similarly devalued in legal matters, of lesser importance than the seating of a senator? The Illinois secretary of state has refused to ‘notarize’ this appointment based on ill judgment of the “appearance of corruption” of the process.

If democrats loved Buckley v. Valeo, they should rally around the position of the Illinois secretary of state in all matters related to Burris v. the U.S. Senate. Where’s there enough ‘appearance of corruption’ to fill the Rose Bowl – or Chicago’s Lake Michigan.

What’s sauce for the conservative goose should be sauce for the liberal gander. And, should it come to a judicial jacobin judgment, so also for SCOTUS. One statewide official in a very corrupt state – where the ‘appearance’ of corruption is a virtual daily fact of political life – seems to be playing by the SCOTUS rules reaffirmed in Buckley. Are we seeing another of the growing cacophony of cases of Different Rules for Different Fools?

Not that the U.S. Senate is full of fools. Yet.

That class is still a minority in its ranks – but wait a few election cycles, after the likely seating of two clowns in its ranks: Al Franken and Caroline Kennedy. Should they join Burris, it will be a trio of tricksters, one having gotten past the Buckley standard, since it behooves the democrats’ scheme, with the scheming cooperation of the media. Maybe SCOTUS will consider expanding Buckley to include the appearance of idiocy as a realm for tampering with the Constitution – expand that reasoning to apply to the whole document, not just to limiting our right to finance the source of solace when we wish to petition our gummint for redress of grievances.

There comes thusly the spectre of real bad appearances – but that is for another day. Meanwhile, we be awaitin’ mo’ Junior Moments from the senile-leaning junior senator from Illinois. Or so would be the appearances before us to date thus far. ExileStreet

copyright 2008 Steve Finefrock Finefrock is founder of Hollywood Forum, a speaker-bureau and panel-discussion vehicle to “Bring the Potomac to the Palisades” on issues that overlap politics and culture with the Hollywood film-TV influence on such national concerns. His scripts have addressed politics [including a TV series pilot/bible package about state political combat, called "A State of the Union"], hazardous materials [from twelve years in emergency management, including six years managing FEMA's Superfund curriculum for hazmat], terrorism, equestrian reincarnation, serial murderer killing journalists in the nation’s capitol, and fantasy about time-wasters. Finefrock is proprietor of PhoneBooth: The Smallest Space in Hollywood…

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