A friend of freedom of speech resigns

John Fund, in his political journal diary, says it very well:

The first amendment took a big hit on Wednesday when Bradley Smith resigned as member of the Federal Election Commission. Mr. Smith was arguably the biggest hawk for protecting political speech in the history of the commission, which regulates political and campaign activities. He made all sorts of enemies, especially among liberal activists who believe that the right to free speech doesn't include the right to spend money promoting your views.

It speaks volumes that arguably the happiest person in America to see him go is Senator John McCain. Mr. McCain is on a mission to regulate away virtually all private political spending. Ever since he was caught in an embarrassing financial relationship with a disgraced savings & loan owner, he's adopted the view that political giving is inherently corrupt and corrupting.

This is not a good time for Mr. Smith to be leaving. Several monumentally important First Amendment issues will be decided in the new few years, including regulation of Internet political activities. Mr. McCain also wants to ban the independent spending of "527" groups, which was a direct outgrowth of his previous effort to ban large contributions to the political parties. Mr. Smith told me recently: "The right to political free speech in America has pretty much reached the end of its tethers." Even the usual defenders of civil liberties, he added, had abandoned their principles because "their hostility to money overrides their concern about the First Amendment." . . .

Brad is a friend, and I just happened to bump into him on Wednesday evening at a get together for the Federalist Society. He is going back to Capital University Law School in Columbus, Ohio.