Several months ago in Seattle, a proposed gas tax increase of 9.5 cents per gallon was challanged in a referendum by assorted opponents
Though outspent by supportersÂ almost 5-1, the referendum passed and the gas tax increase was shot down. (54.6-45.4% of votes cast).Â
That, however was not the reason supporters of the Bill of Rights should be nervous.Â During the campaign, the supporters of the increase went to court to get two radio commentors who opposed the tax, labled as agents of that grassroots effort.Â Said judge ruled thus and stated a dollar value must be placed on theirÂ speech.Â This was done and the judge ordered them to obey spending limits ($5000 in the last 3 week period prior to the vote).
This is currently being appealed to the Washington Supreme Court with the two radio commnetators being represented by the Institute For Justice (http://www.ij.org/index.html).Â
The problem of course with the whole mess, is that limits are being placed on political speech.Â These limits are enthusatically supported in a bipartisan manner too, neither party has any problem with running over individual rights of free sppech.Â This is not the only location where the power of the state is being turned on individuals for speech, Florida is yet another place that free speech cannot be tolerated.Â There, a small newspaper (Wakulla Independent Reporter) folded rather than comply with speech limits.Â The state regulators deemed the paper an "electioneering communication" because of several editorals and endorsements.
The list is growing despite some limited attempts by the Supreme Court to curb the monster they deemed Constitutional several years.Â So now the First Amendment joins the list of other endangered Amendments in the Bill of Rights, so far only the Fifth has escaped the decades of Court/political erosion.Â And of course, neither party seems overly concerned.Â