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BANNING SOFT MONEY WOULD LIMIT FREE SPEECH

In regard to the Dec. 16 editorial, I agree with The News' condemnation of George W. Bush's statement that the only reason there should not be a ban on soft money is that it will "hurt the Republican Party." This is a self-centered statement that only takes into account his own desires.

However, I would like to comment regarding the ban of soft money and the opinion expressed that this would not limit free speech. Banning the use of soft money in a campaign is most definitely a limit on free speech.

As Roger Pilon, the vice president for legal affairs at the Cato Institute and director of Cato's Center for Constitutional Studies, writes, such limits "would strike at the very core of the First Amendment. People contribute to political parties, after all, to advance the ideas for which the parties stand and to encourage and support the political speech that parties promote." The removal of the ability to contribute money to help promote the ideas one believes in undermines the foundation of free speech.

In 1976, the Supreme Court stated that one of the major purposes of the First Amendment was "to protect the free discussion of governmental affairs" and that campaign funding operates "in an area of the most fundamental First Amendment activities."

While a ban on soft money seems like a good idea, it is in direct violation of the Constitution. Although Bush's reasons for a stance against a ban are very selfish, he is right in his conclusion.

SAM ARBESMAN

Williamsville

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