JONATHAN CHAIT JANUARY 31, 2011
Liberals protesters appeared outside the annual Koch brothers right-wing retreat. Bradley Smith believes this violates their fundamental right to be spared from criticism:
The protest was “an open assault on rights of association,” said Bradley A. Smith, a professor at Capital University Law School, whose writings on easing campaign finance restrictions have been influential among conservatives.
The Koch retreat “will harm no one,” Professor Smith said. “They are not going to do any more than talk and listen to speakers. That this alarms these protesters is an ironic commentary on their lack of faith in the American electorate and the power of their own ideas.”
Obviously this argument is ridiculous. To protest a group is not to threaten that group's right to associate. It is to express opposition to the group's ideas.
The really scary thing is that Bradley Smith is a former member of the Federal Election Commission and the leading Republican voice on campaign finance law. Smith seems to uphold the view that not only do corporations have a right to spend unlimited funds to influence the political system, with no disclosure to the public and no public funding for opponents, but a further right not to have anybody gather to protest their activities. Free speech!