This LTE originally appeared in the The Boston Globe on April 21, 2023.
Your recent editorial (“Ways to combat dark money in Massachusetts politics,” Opinion, April 13) missed the mark in citing Attorney General Maura Healey for not advancing a ballot measure limiting contributions to any independent political committee to $5,000.
Why should a state attorney general, who is sworn to uphold the Constitution, advance a blatantly unconstitutional ballot measure? Doing so would be as improper as advancing a measure that would outlaw birth control.
Likewise, the proposed ballot measure limiting independent groups from speaking about candidates is clearly unconstitutional under the First Amendment. All 30 federal appellate judges who have ruled on similar laws reached the same conclusion as the court in SpeechNow.org v. Federal Election Commission, the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit case that professor Lawrence Lessig referenced, and a case in which I was a plaintiff.
Lessig’s argument is unpersuasive legally and philosophically. Americans who want to pool their money and speak about politicians shouldn’t be limited. If a corrupt bargain is made, prosecute the politician who took the bribe and the person who gave it. But don’t take away our rights to assemble and speak or publish our views about politicians.