Thursday, February 04, 2010

Justice Thomas recalls "Pitchfork Ben" Tillman

In comments related to President Obama's comments on the Supreme Court during the State of the Union speech, Justice Thomas gave some details on the first federal campaign finance law, the Tillman Act:

[Thomas] added that the history of Congressional regulation of corporate involvement in politics had a dark side, pointing to the Tillman Act, which banned corporate contributions to federal candidates in 1907.

“Go back and read why Tillman introduced that legislation,” Justice Thomas said, referring to Senator Benjamin Tillman. “Tillman was from South Carolina, and as I hear the story he was concerned that the corporations, Republican corporations, were favorable toward blacks and he felt that there was a need to regulate them.”

It is thus a mistake, the justice said, to applaud the regulation of corporate speech as “some sort of beatific action.”

See also wikipedia entry on Tillman.


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