This piece originally ran in San Antonio Express-News on April 30th 2018.
The Institute’s Free Speech Index scores and ranks all 50 states on their laws governing political giving, grading them from A+ to F. Fortunately, Texas ranked among the top states, earning an A, one of 11 states earning an A or higher. One crucial trait these states share is that they don’t limit the freedom of individuals to give to candidates, parties and political committees, or the ability of parties and political committees to give to candidates.
Why is it so important that states allow freedom in political giving to and between these groups? Because the main effect of government-imposed restrictions on political giving is to limit the amount of speech individuals, organizations and political actors can express. Giving money is not just a show of support. It also enables candidates and groups to spread their message further…
Texas lawmakers deserve praise for preserving First Amendment freedoms. Many politicians find it easier to pass laws making it harder for voters or rival candidates to criticize them. They do so while claiming they are protecting voters from the rich when, really, they are protecting themselves. Texas is one of 11 states that has done an exemplary job of avoiding this trap. Hopefully, the Institute for Free Speech’s Index will shed light on how such states can continue producing pro-First Amendment policy – and will push others to do the same.