From the Daily News:
A group of citizens bands together and takes out an ad criticizing a candidate running for mayor. The candidate who is the subject of their criticism — City Council Speaker Christine Quinn — is stung by it. She believes it falsely characterizes her positions.
But instead of just responding, which of course she has ample resources to do, she takes steps to prohibit the critical ad from appearing. First, her campaign’s attorney threatens the cable company on whose network the ad ran, suggesting that it could lose its license if it continues to run the ad. Then Quinn writes to all the other mayoral candidates, asking them to join her in condemning and rejecting all such ads by independent citizens or groups of citizens operating outside of the city’s campaign financing system.
In other words, only the candidates themselves and established media outlets, like newspapers, can offer their opinions in elections. Citizens should not have a voice. Or if they do have a voice, it should only be muted, never amplified on the airwaves.
What Quinn is proposing is exactly what the founders of our country tried to avoid when they passed the First Amendment, guaranteeing all Americans — not just candidates and newspapers — the right of free speech.
Who does she think she is? Quinn can reject contributions to her own campaign from sources she doesn’t like. But she cannot reject what I or any other New Yorker wants to say about her. Nor can she “reject” my right to band together with others of like mind and voice our opinions. That’s what free speech is, and it’s the oldest tradition of liberty we have.
Richard Nixon infamously sought to target and punish his critics. Rudy Giuliani set a city record for being sued for violating the First Amendment. We don’t need another mayor with this little respect for our traditions of free speech, or with so little regard for the First Amendment that she would respond to criticism by trying to repress it.