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The Supreme Court has upheld that when it comes to political spending and campaign finance, money is a form of constitutionally protected free speech. People concerned about the unprecedented amount of money being spent to influence politics have proposed an amendment that would give Congress the power to regulate campaign finance.
In a recent Senate Committee Judiciary hearing on that amendment, American University professor Jamie Raskin argued hypothetically that if money equals free speech, other paid acts, like prostitution, should also be legal.
Fusion Live spoke to Prof. Raskin about his unique argument and why he believes money and free speech are not interchangeable:
“The claim that money is free speech is an extraordinary claim. Money is currency. It’s a system of exchange, and speech is language that has nouns and verbs and adverbs and adjectives and they are just two different things,” Raskin argued. “Of course money can pay for speech, but to say that money is just speech would suggest that, for example, prostitution is constitutionally protected. That if someone wanted to purchase the services of a prostitute, they are just exercising their free speech rights, and we know that is patently absurd.”
If money equals free speech, should we be allowed to purchase drugs, for example? Raskin says under current laws, yes: “If spending money is just speech, then you should have the right to spend money on whatever you wanted, because you are just expressing yourself–and of course that’s ridiculous.”