President Obama has repeatedly accused the U.S. Supreme Court of making a mistake in its 2010 decision in the Citizens United case. Obama has said that corporations and political action groups should not be allowed a right to free political speech. He did so again just this last week. Many extremists on the left agree with him. But one well-known leftist crusader, former Governor of New York Elliot Spitzer, disagrees with them all. The Citizens United decision was right says Spitzer.

It is unusual to see a liberal put the Constitution before ideology, but that is exactly what Spitzer did on HBO’s Real Time show hosted by the odious Bill Maher. Spitzer correctly described the First Amendment and why the SCOTUS decision fulfilled both the spirit of the law as well as the spirit of the founder’s ideals on free political speech.

The Citizens United decision held that a conservative political action group (Citizens United) should not be barred by the MCain-Feingold campaign finance law from putting out a movie about a presidential candidate in the 60 days prior to the general election. The 5-4 decision found that this ban of their video and their other material was a violation of the group’s free political speech.

The decision prefigured the rise of the Super PACS that have made so many people upset at our political campaigns these days.

“I think as a First Amendment principle, Citizens United was correct,” Spitzer told the odious one. “The First Amendment,” he went on, says government “shall pass no law abridging the right of speech.”

“Doesn’t say by anybody. It says speech. I don’t care whose speech it is. The ACLU agrees with me, and Larry Lessig, great academic, on this. So this is a more textured issue. It has done horrific things to politics. But as a First Amendment issue, it’s a much more complicated issue.”

Spitzer explained that while there could be some restrictions, freedom of speech would ultimately make democracy better.

“We can limit contributions to candidates, and we should be able to do that. We should mandate absolute disclosure. But as a First Amendment principle, people should be able to say what they want, how they want with their own money. I don’t care if it’s [Sheldon] Adelson or somebody who is of my political views on the left. Let speech breed speech.”

“‘You never defeat speech by limiting speech’ is the First Amendment principle by which I live. I just think we’ll be a healthier democracy for it.”

Well, that is refreshing… and dead-on accurate as a reading on the Constitution, too.

Few liberals care much if their dearly held (and religiously believed, by the way) beliefs violate the Constitution. Most liberals feel the law is merely an obstacle to be overcome, not one that restrains their authoritarian ways. And I have to say, looking at Spitzer’s career as a prosecutor, it sure looks like he usually falls on that dismissive end of fealty to the law.

But in this case he is sticking to the truth of the Constitution and an interpretation with which the founders would agree.

You see, money IS political speech. If you are barred from using your money to help a candidate with whom you agree, your right to express your political beliefs is being squelched by the government. It really is just that simple.

Further, the founders were not interested in the sort of license that most liberals today think is a definition of “free speech.” During the founder’s era every state had speech codes of one sort or another and the founders were not worried about those codes of general conduct. What they meant to specifically protect was political speech not all speech in general.

In their era and in the historical eras from which they drew their lessons, indulging political speech was often a cause for being arrested by the state! The founders wanted to make sure that such restrictions were forbidden in the United States of America. So, when they drafted the First Amendment it was to keep government from quashing or criminalizing political speech.

Spitzer is 100% right that Citizens United was correctly decided. Nice to see a liberal that has at least a tiny bit of respect for the Constitution! They are rare animals, to be sure.