Archive for the ‘First Amendment’ Category
Eric Posner’s article is frightening from the standpoint that he thinks implementing speech codes at universities is justifiable because students are still children:
Lately, a moral panic about speech and sexual activity in universities has reached a crescendo. Universities have strengthened rules prohibiting offensive speech typically targeted at racial, ethnic, and sexual minorities; taken it upon themselves to issue “trigger warnings” to students when courses offer content that might upset them; banned sexual acts that fall short of rape under criminal law but are on the borderline of coercion; and limited due process protections of students accused of violating these rules.
Most liberals celebrate these developments, yet with a certain uneasiness. Few of them want to apply these protections to society at large. Conservatives and libertarians are up in arms. They see these rules as an assault on free speech and individual liberty. They think universities are treating students like children. And they are right. But they have also not considered that the justification for these policies may lie hidden in plain sight: that students are children. Not in terms of age, but in terms of maturity. Even in college, they must be protected like children while being prepared to be adults.
The frightening part of those paragraphs is that they aren’t the most frightening part of the article. Another thing that’s worth highlighting is that Posner thinks students are still immature children. If that’s true, then it’s proof that society has gotten soft. During WWII, teenagers helped defeat Nazi Germany and imperial Japan. Now their contemporaries aren’t capable of handling conflict? Seriously?
Check this paragraph out:
There is a popular, romantic notion that students receive their university education through free and open debate about the issues of the day. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Students who enter college know hardly anything at all—that’s why they need an education. Classroom teachers know students won’t learn anything if they blab on about their opinions. Teachers are dictators who carefully control what students say to one another. It’s not just that sincere expressions of opinion about same-sex marriage or campaign finance reform are out of place in chemistry and math class. They are out of place even in philosophy and politics classes, where the goal is to educate students (usually about academic texts and theories), not to listen to them spout off. And while professors sometimes believe there is pedagogical value in allowing students to express their political opinions in the context of some text, professors (or at least, good professors) carefully manipulate their students so that the discussion serves pedagogical ends.
It’s one thing to insist on order in the classroom. It’s another to attempt to “carefully control what students say to one another.” Order in the classroom is a must because it gives every student the ability to hear what’s being taught. Telling students what they can’t say is censorship with a different name.
Saying that “free and open debate” are “out of place even in philosophy and politics classes” isn’t just silly. It’s frightening because it’s fascism in the classroom. It leads to monolithic thinking. It produces cookie cutter classmates that think alike. That’s unacceptable.
Most important, it isn’t possible for Mr. Posner to produce proof that he’s right It isn’t possible because it doesn’t exist. It’s a theory in search of proof.
Notice the conflating of principles in this question:
If students want to learn biology and art history in an environment where they needn’t worry about being offended or raped, why shouldn’t they?
Everyone has the right to live in a society “where they needn’t worry about being” raped. One of the cornerstones of civil societies is public safety. Nobody has the right to live in a society “where they needn’t worry about being offended.” Living in an offense-free society isn’t possible. It’s also offensive to me from the perspective of who determines what’s offensive. Nobody is qualified to determine what’s offensive.
This Strib article left the impression that Republicans outspent Democrats this cycle. Here’s the opening paragraph:
Republicans and their campaign allies, often financially outmatched in recent years by a cash-rich DFL machine, focused their resources on a relatively small number of key and expensive state House races and the gamble paid off, according to campaign finance reports made public Tuesday.
First, the slant to that paragraph sounds like Republicans finally overtook the DFL in campaign spending. Here’s what I would’ve written had I written the article:
Republicans and their campaign allies, financially outmatched in each election for the last two decades by a cash-rich DFL machine, focused their resources on a relatively small number of key and expensive state House races. The perfectly predictable political strategy, which the DFL also followed, paid off, according to campaign finance reports made public Tuesday.
The next paragraph is equally misleading. It read:
The reports show that of the 10 most expensive statehouse races in 2014, Republicans won seven, the exact number they needed to take the majority, plus four others for good measure. The price tag on a couple of those races topped $750,000 in independent expenditures alone, not counting what the candidates themselves spent.
Here’s what I would’ve written:
The reports show that, of the 10 most expensive (i.e., “targeted” by both parties) state legislative races in 2014, Republicans won seven, the exact number they needed to take the majority, even though the GOP coalition was outspent plus four others for good measure (That makes the entire “most expensive” races narrative irrelevant). The price tag on a couple of those races topped $750,000 in independent expenditures, not counting what the candidates themselves spent. In both races where that was true, the DFL candidate benefitted from significantly more spending than the GOP candidate, including an $83,000 advantage in the state’s most expensive race. In that race, the DFL candidate benefitted from tens of thousands of dollars from outside Minnesota.
It isn’t until the third paragraph that Mssrs. Coolican and Howatt admit that the DFL outspent Republicans:
The DFL retained its overall fundraising advantage, with Democratic-aligned groups spending $10 million to the approximate $6 million of their Republican counterparts, but the data does not show so-called dark money spending by groups that do not have to report expenses, which is where Republicans may be catching up or surpassing Democrats.
This is what I would’ve written:
The DFL retained its overall fundraising advantage (in direct contrast to the headline of this article), with Democratic-aligned groups spending $10 million to the approximate $6 million of their Republican counterparts (meaning $6 of every $10 dollars in Minnesota races were spent to benefit DFL candidates), but the data does not show so-called dark money spending by groups that do not have to report expenses, which is where Republicans may be catching up or surpassing Democrats. Then again, Republicans might not be catching up since it’s impossible to track so-called dark money.
Here’s the next paragraph:
All told, the parties, candidates and political action committees spent an estimated $66 million on the 2014 contests.
Does this include state house races, constitutional officers and congressional races? Does this include the “dark money” that Democrats reflexively decry…when it isn’t being used to elect Democrats?
Republican-aligned groups spent $1.26 million to help GOP gubernatorial nominee Jeff Johnson, who trailed in the polls from the day he won his primary, while DFL groups spent $4.5 million to help re-elect Gov. Mark Dayton, swamping Johnson with negative ads before he could get his campaign off the ground.
Here’s where the DFL spending advantage is best highlighted:
Republican-aligned groups spent $1.26 million to help GOP gubernatorial nominee Jeff Johnson, who trailed in the polls from the day he won his primary, while DFL groups spent almost 4 times as much as the GOP, or about $4.5 million, to help re-elect Gov. Mark Dayton, swamping Johnson with negative ads before he could get his campaign off the ground.
That’s quite a contrast.
In the House races, however, Republicans and their allies approached parity, spending $4.3 million to the DFL aligned groups’ $5.4 million. The Republican-leaning Minnesota Jobs Coalition, for instance, funneled at least $325,000 from the Washington, D.C.-based Republican State Leadership Committee into targeted races that helped put House Republicans over the top. Ben Golnik was hired away from the Jobs Coalition after November’s election to the House Republicans’ top staff job.
Here’s the more accurate version:
In the House races, however, Republicans and their allies were ‘only’ outspent by the DFL by $1.1 million. The Republican-leaning Minnesota Jobs Coalition funneled at least $325,000 from the Washington, D.C.-based RSLC into targeted races that helped put House Republicans over the top. The Washington, D.C. Based DLCC Victory Fund spent $300,000 on an identical effort through the House DFL Caucus. After November’s election, Ben Golnik was hired away from the Jobs Coalition to the House Republicans’ top staff job.
This paragraph is rich:
Although $66 million was reported spent in 2014, what’s not known is precisely how much was spent by so-called dark money groups — nonprofit organizations that can spend unlimited sums on elections without disclosing their donors. They have become much more active in politics since the U.S. Supreme Court 2010 Citizens United decision gutted campaign finance rules. Minnesota House Democrats complain bitterly about this spending and have offered legislation this year attempting to close loopholes.
Democrats won’t stop whining about Citizens United. That paragraph is completely misleading and false. These groups can’t spend a dime on elections. They can educate voters about issues. Often, these ads are confused with election ads. They’ve become much more active in politics since the U.S. Supreme Court 2010 Citizens United decision gutted campaign finance rules that violated the First Amendment. If anything, the “issue ads” are less prevalent since Citizens United (at least in Minnesota) precisely because corporate and labor spending can now be used for express advocacy. Minnesota House Democrats complain bitterly about this spending and have offered legislation this year attempting to “close loopholes”, which is code for saying eliminating some First Amendment protections. What’s interesting is that many of the DFL’s allies, including the Alliance for a Better Minnesota, labor unions such as SEIU and AFSCME and Planned Parenthood, take advantage of the same “loopholes” to educate Minnesotans on issues important to them, which is their constitutional right.
Minnesota DFLers were helped by reliable allies: The Alliance for a Better Minnesota Action Fund spent more than $4.5 million. Big labor union PACs also pitched in, including Education Minnesota with more than $400,000 and big totals from AFSCME, SEIU and the nurses union also came to the DFL’s aid. This was in addition to nearly $2.9 million by the state party and more than $900,000 by the DFL House caucus.
Here’s more details that the Strib didn’t include in their article:
Minnesota DFLers were helped by reliable allies. The Alliance for a Better Minnesota Action Fund spent more than $4.5 million, over $1.2M of which was contributed by “Win Minnesota,” a 501(c)(4) which is not required to disclose its donors. Big labor union PACs also pitched in, including Education Minnesota with more than $400,000 and big totals from AFSCME, SEIU and the nurses union also came to the DFL’s aid. This was in addition to nearly $2.9 million by the state party and more than $900,000 by the DFL House caucus.
Finally, there’s this:
On the Republican side, the party spent $1.3 million. Minnesota Action Network, with which former Sen. Norm Coleman is affiliated, spent $657,000; Pro Jobs Majority spent more than $1 million, with several similar, business-backed groups chipping in six-figure chunks. The House Republican caucus spent $440,000.
On the Republican side, the party spent $1.3 million. Minnesota Action Network, which former Sen. Norm Coleman is affiliated with, spent $657,000 (which didn’t have to disclose all of its individual donors); Pro Jobs Majority spent more than $1 million, with several similar, business-backed groups chipping in six-figure chunks. The House Republican caucus spent $440,000.
After reading this LTE, there’s no question that fascism is alive and well in the United States. Here’s what the LTE proposes:
Combined, about $43,781,720 was spent on campaigning just for the governor, Senate and U.S. House elections in Minnesota. Think what that money could have been used for in the state.
I realize it’s not a lot of money in the total scheme of things, but it sure could have been used for something better than all the advertising. There should be no money allowed except from individuals living in the state or legislative district. No money should come from PACs, corporations or unions; only from people who can vote! PACs, corporations and unions don’t vote.
There also should be no negative advertising. Period! Only advertising should be about the candidate’s position on issues and what the candidate will try to do if elected. Period!
Who made this person the arbiter of what’s protected by the First Amendment and what isn’t? This is what happens when schools don’t teach their students the Constitution. It’s what happens when parents don’t teach their children the Constitution, too. It’s what happens when buffoons don’t think things through, too.
Why shouldn’t PACs, corporations and unions have the right to participate in the political process? There’s nothing in the text of the First Amendment that says it only protects individuals’ right to free speech.
What’s particularly bothersome about this LTE is that he didn’t bother mentioning the fact that the DFL and Nancy Pelosi’s ads were particularly dishonest. The other thing that’s troubling is the fact that the DFL’s ads and Nancy Pelosi’s ads outright lied. Repeatedly. Though this isn’t a Pelosi ad, it’s of a similar nature:
That ad was run by NARAL Pro-Choice USA. It accused Cory Gardner, Colorado’s new senator-elect, of banning birth control. NARAL ran this slanderous ad despite their knowing that Sen.-Elect Gardner proposed making contraception available without a prescription.
The best way to clean up politics isn’t by limiting citizens’ participation in the political process but by defeating the politicians whose ads are essentially smear campaigns. Politicians won’t stop running smear campaigns until they don’t work anymore. This isn’t that complicated.
Another key step in eliminating negative campaigning is by tying outside groups’ spending to the candidates they’re attempting to help. While it’s illegal to for politicians to coordinate with these outside expenditure organizations, it isn’t illegal to issue a heartfelt statement specifically criticizing these smear campaign ads. For instance, a man of integrity caught in soon-to-be former Sen. Udall’s position could’ve issued this statement about NARAL’s smear campaign ad:
My campaign condemns in the harshest possible terms NARAL’s ad suggesting my opponent wants to ban birth control. While my opponent and I disagree on a wide range of issues, and while I stand ready to highlight those points of disagreement during our debates and out campaign, I can’t sit idly by while this smear campaign is carried out on my behalf. I hereby demand that NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado take this ad down immediately.
In the Eighth District, there was little difference between Rick Nolan’s advertisements and Pelosi’s advertisements. In fact, the DCCC’s advertisements against Torrey Westrom and Rick Nolan’s advertisements against Stewart Mills were cookie-cutter copycats of Pelosi’s advertisements against Stewart Mills.
I’ll have more to say on Rick Nolan’s spinelessness later this morning.
I’ve believed that John Chisholm, the Milwaukee County District Attorney, was a vindictive partisan prosecutor long before George Will wrote this column. Will’s column chief contribution is that it focuses attention on several key points that should receive additional highlighting. Here’s one such point:
The early-morning paramilitary-style raids on citizens’ homes were conducted by law enforcement officers, sometimes wearing bulletproof vests and lugging battering rams, pounding on doors and issuing threats. Spouses were separated as the police seized computers, including those of children still in pajamas. Clothes drawers, including the children’s, were ransacked, cellphones were confiscated and the citizens were told that it would be a crime to tell anyone of the raids.
Some raids were precursors of, others were parts of, the nastiest episode of this unlovely political season, an episode that has occurred in an unlikely place. This attempted criminalization of politics to silence people occupying just one portion of the political spectrum has happened in Wisconsin, which often has conducted robust political arguments with Midwestern civility.
That’s what the threats and intimidation wing of the Democratic Party looks like. John Chisholm is a thug with institutionalized authority to ruin innocent people’s lives. He’s the ‘leader’ of the Wisconsin chapter of the Democratic Party’s threats and intimidation wing.
In collaboration with Wisconsin’s misbegotten Government Accountability Board, which exists to regulate political speech, Chisholm has misinterpreted Wisconsin campaign law in a way that looks willful. He has done so to justify a “John Doe” process that has searched for evidence of “coordination” between Walker’s campaign and conservative issue advocacy groups.
On Oct. 14, much too late in the campaign season to rescue the political-participation rights of conservative groups, a federal judge affirmed what Chisholm surely has known all along: Since a U.S. Supreme Court ruling 38 years ago, the only coordination that is forbidden is between candidates and independent groups that go beyond issue advocacy to “express advocacy”, explicitly advocating the election or defeat of a particular candidate.
Why Wisconsin ever passed these John Doe laws is inexplicable. It’s authority to start a fishing expedition, something that’s contrary to the principles of probable cause and the Fourth Amendment’s protections against unreasonable searches and seizures. Chisholm’s goal might’ve already been achieved:
But Chisholm’s aim, to have a chilling effect on conservative speech, has been achieved by bombarding Walker supporters with raids and subpoenas: Instead of raising money to disseminate their political speech, conservative individuals and groups, harassed and intimidated, have gone into a defensive crouch, raising little money and spending much money on defensive litigation. Liberal groups have not been targeted for their activities that are indistinguishable from those of their conservative counterparts.
I’ve written before about weaponized government. Chisholm’s investigation (I hate using that term in this context) fits that description perfectly. It’s the personification of weaponized government.
It’s worth noting this sentence:
Liberal groups have not been targeted for their activities that are indistinguishable from those of their conservative counterparts.
I’ve seen nasty forms of weaponized government but this is the nastiest form of it. Law enforcement officials participating in this should be investigated, too. Their actions furthered this unconstitutional exercise of abusive government. Hans Spakovsky’s op-ed nails it:
Oral arguments were heard Tuesday before the 7th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in O’Keefe vs. Chisholm, the so-called John Doe investigation in which local prosecutors in Wisconsin tried to criminalize political speech and activity on public issues. The 7th Circuit should uphold the lower court decision halting this Star Chamber investigation that violated basic First Amendment rights.
The fact that such a secret persecution of citizen advocacy organizations even occurred ought to be an embarrassment to a state that prides itself on being a progressive bastion of individual freedom. It is more reminiscent of a banana republic than the world’s foremost democracy.
Chisholm should be disbarred for intentionally violating private citizens’ civil rights. Then he should be tried and, hopefully, be convicted, then incarcerated for many years. He’s a nasty person helping the Democratic Party chill political speech. Saying that his actions are intimidating and that his tactics are the type that would be approved of by Joe McCarthy is understatement.
Technorati: John Chisholm, John Doe Investigation, Chilling Effect, Threats and Intimidation, Censorship, McCarthyism, Fourth Amendment, First Amendment, Civil Rights, O’Keefe v. Chisholm, Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, Democratic Culture of Corruption, Election 2014
When the city of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho passed a non-discrimination ordinance, they opened up a nasty First Amendment can of worms:
Two Christian ministers who own an Idaho wedding chapel were told they had to either perform same-sex weddings or face jail time and up to a $1,000 fine, according to a lawsuit filed Friday in federal court. Alliance Defending Freedom is representing Donald and Evelyn Knapp, ordained ministers who own the Hitching Post Wedding Chapel in Coeur d’Alene.
“Right now they are at risk of being prosecuted,” their ADF attorney, Jeremy Tedesco, told me. “The threat of enforcement is more than just credible.”
According to the lawsuit, the wedding chapel is registered with the state as a “religious corporation” limited to performing “one-man-one-woman marriages as defined by the Holy Bible.” But the chapel is also registered as a for-profit business, not as a church or place of worship, and city officials said that means the owners must comply with a local nondiscrimination ordinance.
It’s difficult seeing this ordinance passing constitutional scrutiny by a real court. It was upheld by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The next step will be to the Supreme Court. The First Amendment doesn’t just protect citizens, as we learned in this summer’s Hobby Lobby ruling.
I suspect that this is just another attempt to strike down that ruling.
Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, told me it’s “open season on Americans who refuse to bow to the government’s redefinition of marriage. Americans are witnesses to the reality that redefining marriage is less about the marriage altar and more about fundamentally altering the freedoms of the other 98 percent of Americans,” Perkins said.
Governments, whether they’re local governments or the federal government, don’t have the authority to tell religious institutions what they must do. That’s what Coeur d’Alene is attempting to do. Their city attorney, Warren Wilson, apparently isn’t that schooled in constitutional law.
Thankfully, the Knapps are standing their ground, with assistance from the Alliance Defending Freedom and the Family Research Council. It’s important that government not have the authority to tell people how they can practice their faith. That’s a major reason why people left Europe. It’s important that we fight against being returned to European-style governance.
During his interview with Esme Murphy, Rick Nolan reiterated his support for overturning the Supreme Court’s ruling in the Citizens United vs. the FEC lawsuit:
The Supreme Court ruled against BCRA, aka McCain-Feingold:
Independent Expenditures by Corporations
The Court overruled Austin, striking down § 441b’s ban on corporate independent expenditures. It also struck down the part of McConnell that upheld BCRA § 203’s extension of § 441b’s restrictions on independent corporate expenditures. The Court held that the “government may not suppress political speech on the basis of the speaker’s corporate identity. No sufficient governmental interest justifies limits on the political speech of nonprofit or for-profit corporations.” An analysis of this holding follows.
As Applied Challenge. First, the Court held that the case could not be resolved on an as applied basis without chilling political speech. Under an “as applied” challenge, the Court’s review of the law’s constitutionality is limited to the set of facts in the case before it. The Court therefore broadened the case from Citizens United’s initial narrower arguments, focusing only on Hillary, to reconsider both the validity of its prior decisions in Austin and McConnell and the facial validity of § 441b.
In reaching this decision, the Court reasoned that among other things:
1. Citizen United’s narrower arguments, including that Hillary is not an “electioneering communication,” are not sustainable under a fair reading of § 441b, and
2. it must therefore consider the statute’s facial validity or risk prolonging its substantial chilling effect.
The First Amendment’s protections apply to all political speech. The argument that ‘corporations aren’t people’ is laughable at best. Nowhere in the First Amendment does it say that the First Amendment protects only individuals. Does the Fourth Amendment protect only individuals from unreasonable searches and seizures? Of course it doesn’t.
But I digress.
Nolan said that he’s “the lead sponsor of new legislation in Washington to reverse Citizens United.” That means, according to the Supreme Court’s ruling, Nolan wants to reverse the chilling effect McCain-Feingold had on political speech. For those asking why that’s a bad thing, I’ll answer with a question. Do you want the government to say what’s acceptable speech and what isn’t? Before answering that question, think about this: Lois Lerner “served as associate general counsel and head of the enforcement office at the FEC“:
One of Lerner’s former colleagues tells National Review Online that her political ideology was evident during her tenure at the FEC, where, he says, she routinely subjected groups seeking to expand the influence of money in politics, including, in her view, conservatives and Republicans, to the sort of heightened scrutiny we now know they came under at the IRS.
Before the IRS, Lerner served as associate general counsel and head of the enforcement office at the FEC, which she joined in 1986. Working under FEC general counsel Lawrence Noble, Lerner drafted legal recommendations to the agency’s commissioners intended to guide their actions on the complaints brought before them.
Isn’t it frightening that a corrupt bureaucrat like Lois Lerner could be the final arbiter of what’s acceptable speech and what isn’t? If Nolan’s legislation passed, it’s possible a corrupt, hyperpartisan bureaucrat could determine which speech is acceptable and what speech isn’t.
Nolan’s legislation would make it illegal for unions to advocate for their endorsed candidates. Nolan’s legislation might be used to shut down ABM, Nancy Pelosi’s superPAC and the DCCC. Is that what Nolan wants?
I’d bet it isn’t. He’s been silent while the DCCC ran its disgusting ads. He’s been silent while Nancy Pelosi’s superPAC ran disgustingly dishonest ads. Apparently, Nolan only opposes money in politics when he’s in front of a camera. That isn’t a principled position. It’s a political position.
I know it isn’t the highest hurdle ever constructed but it’s apparent that some citizens are smarter than Sen. Franken when it comes to the Bill of Rights. Here’s proof:
“Congress and the states may regulate and set reasonable limits on the raising and spending of money by candidates and others to influence elections.” This is a proposed constitutional amendment Sen. Al Franken supports along with 47 other Democratic senators. Hopefully in one of his remaining debates he will explain his reasoning for supporting this amendment and why incumbent congressmen like himself should be entrusted to set “reasonable limits.” Perhaps Democrats think we shouldn’t be exposed to too many ideas. It’s ironic his party supports such an amendment since the Democratic Party is far outspending the GOP in this year’s mid-term election.
This LTE hits the nail on the head in highlighting the silliness of thinking anyone in Washington, DC is capable of setting “reasonable limits” on fundraising spending during campaigns. To quote the great economist and philosopher Milton Friedman during his interview with Phil Donahue, “Just where do you suppose we’re going to find these angels who are going to organize society for us? I don’t even trust you to do that.”
The notion that government bureaucrats always care about families or individuals rights is myth. The sooner that myth is demolished, the better. The thought that an incumbent will set up election rules that don’t favor the incumbent is foolhardy. Thinking that Al Franken, Harry Reid and Chuck Schumer are interested in playing fair is intellectually insulting.
Yes, raising and spending money can be used to influence opinions and elections. That is what free speech is supposed to do.
It’s a beautiful thing. Shouldn’t “the rich” have the right to express their political opinions? If not, why not?
Actually, that’s just a trap. Who made any of us the impartial arbiter of what’s acceptable political speech? Is any of us so virtuous that we’d trust ourselves with never showing partiality? If you think that of yourself, then you’re either lying through your teeth or you’ve got a higher opinion of yourself than you should have.
Al that aside, the fact is that Sen. Franken has shown he isn’t the impartial arbiter of what’s acceptable political speech and what isn’t. He’s signed his name to a letter telling the IRS to crank up their investigation against conservative organizations by saying that they were involved in something suspicious. What that suspicious thing was wasn’t identified in Sen. Schumer’s letter.
What’s interesting is that Sen. Franken wants to give politicians the right to tell people that think differently than him that the First Amendment doesn’t protect them like it protects people that think like him. After that, he’s essentially saying that we should trust him with the authority to unlevel the political playing field.
This op-ed in the Wall Street Journal should frighten civic-minded people of all political persuasions. It paints the picture of what hardline progressives specialize in:
Last year Wisconsin prosecutors—at the behest of Milwaukee’s Democratic District Attorney John Chisholm —launched a secret criminal investigation involving almost every conservative advocacy group in the state. Armed law-enforcement personnel executed pre-dawn searches of the homes of consultants for the Wisconsin Club for Growth. The organization had engaged in “issue advocacy”—running ads that do not call for the election or defeat of a candidate—both before and during the extended cycle of recall elections for state officials following Gov. Scott Walker’s collective-bargaining reforms in 2011. At the same time, subpoenas were directed to approximately 30 other conservative advocacy organizations and their bankers and accountants.
In other words, hardline leftists like John Chisholm perverted the criminal justice system for political purposes. Chisholm and his thugs had a goal to silence conservatives’ political speech. It looks like they accomplished that mission while chilling political speech.
That’s as un-American as it gets.
The investigation has been stopped by a preliminary injunction in O’Keefe v. Chisholm, and it is the subject of legal wrangling in state and federal courts, but if Mr. Chisholm’s efforts were politically motivated, then he can already claim victory. As midterm elections near, Wisconsin conservative groups have been sufficiently intimidated amid the uncertain legal climate, or their money has been so depleted by courtroom fights, that they are not the force in the state that they were in 2012.
Chisholm has won this part of the fight but he hasn’t won the war. What’s needed is an army of thoughtful people who put the Bill of Rights ahead of short-term political gains. If that army doesn’t exist, then Chisholm’s won the war, not just this fight.
When short-term political gains are more important than fighting for the Bill of Rights, we’ve passed the tipping point as a nation. It’s time to fight for the Bill of Rights. It’s time to momentarily put partisanship aside and focus on doing what’s right. Chilling political speech through the courts is abhorrent. Utilizing unconstitutional laws to chill political speech is disgusting.
It’s been said that people shouldn’t subscribe to conspiracy theories the things that can be explained by incompetence. This isn’t about incompetence. It’s a plan that Democrats utilize because they don’t like taking criticism. They’ve used the IRS to stifle conservatives’ political speech. Senate Democrats just attempted to gut the First Amendment. There’s nothing accidental about the Democrats’ campaign against the Bill of Rights.
Campaign-finance lawyers often say that the process is the punishment, and that has certainly been the case in Wisconsin. I have witnessed it first-hand as my organization, the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty, consults with many conservative advocacy groups across Wisconsin.
After the raids became public knowledge, the prosecutors claimed that they were investigating allegations that the Wisconsin Club for Growth and other groups had illegally “coordinated” their speech on political issues with Gov. Walker’s campaign in violation of the state’s baroque and often inscrutable campaign finance laws. The investigators seized sensitive and highly confidential records of a good part of the state’s conservative infrastructure.
When Chisholm is laughed out of his final court, which will happen, he’ll still have won because he will have silenced conservatives. Winning in court wasn’t part of his fascist agenda. Chisholm’s goal was to intimidate people into silence. That’s called censorship.
I don’t trust people being the arbiters of what’s acceptable political speech and what isn’t. That’s why I cheered when the Senate’s bill, predictably, went up in flames.
Al Franken and Sherrod Brown are just 2 of the Democratic senators that want to limit political speech. Truthfully, all 55 senators that caucus with the Democrats think that political speech should be regulated by the Senate. Here’s Sen. Brown’s latest attack on the First Amendment:
Where to start with Citizens United?
It’s brought unprecedented outside spending into our elections. It’s undercut the public’s faith in their elected officials. And it’s cowed Congress by putting a target on the back of any member who tries to stand up to special interests — like they did with me, when special interests spent $40 million against me in 2012.
Corporations are not people. The Declaration of Independence doesn’t say that “all corporations are created equal.” And there’s no good reason to pretend that corporations have the same rights as real, flesh-and-blood people.
But that’s exactly what Citizens United does, and in the process, it allows corporate cash to flood our elections and distract voters from issues that really matter.
Citizens United has done major damage to our democracy. Today, we start undoing that damage. Add your name to mine and demand an end to Citizens United.
First, I’d love hearing Sen. Brown, or Sen. Franken for that matter, explain where in the text of the First Amendment it says that corporations don’t have the right of political speech. Here’s the text of the First Amendment:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
The Founding Fathers meant for there to be robust debate of the issues. Notice, too, that they mentioned that “people”, not individuals, should have the right to peaceably assemble or petition their government “for a redress of grievances.”
Further, I’d love hearing Sens. Franken and Brown explain how a union is a group of individuals but a corporation isn’t a group of individuals.
The truth is that the Democrats’ attempt to amend the Constitution is all about election year politicking. The Democrats should be forced to explain why pro-Democrat political organizations should have the right to participate in the political process but pro-Republican organizations shouldn’t be allowed to participate in the political process. Finally, I’d love hearing Sens. Franken and Brown explain why incumbents should have the right to regulate anti-incumbent political speech. Why should I think incumbents are honest arbiters of what is and isn’t acceptable political speech?
Yesterday, I got an email alert about a lawsuit filed by the Center for Competitive Politics challenging the constitutionality of another provision of McCain-Feingold. Here’s the heart of the matter:
The Independence Institute wishes to run two ads: one asking Colorado Senators Mark Udall and Michael Bennett to support a federal sentencing reform bill, and one asking citizens to contact Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper and urge him to initiate an audit of the Colorado Health Benefit Exchange. The McCain-Feingold law, along with a similar state statute, effectively prevents the group from raising money for the ads.
“This situation shows the damage to free speech caused by carelessly written campaign finance laws,” said David Keating, president of CCP. “Instead of advocacy on an important public issue, there will be silence. That’s unacceptable under the First Amendment, and is the reason why we filed this lawsuit.”
Prior to the passage of Obamacare, McCain-Feingold was the worst legislation in the last half century. I can’t even say that the intent behind McCain-Feingold was good. Its effect was to protect incumbents while limiting political speech.
There’s nothing honorable about either thing.
Here’s what McCain-Feingold does to issue advocacy:
Colorado and federal law treat speech about public issues as campaign speech whenever a candidate is mentioned in a broadcast ad within 60 days of the general election. Groups must either file public reports with personal details about donors who have provided funds for the ads, or refrain from speaking. The result is what First Amendment advocates call a “chilling” effect on advocacy, depriving the public of important speech about issues of public importance.
Here’s why disclosure in these instances is frightening:
Donors and speakers have many reasons to protect their privacy. Some fear retaliation from government officials who disagree with them. Others fear physical harm or threats to themselves and their families, vandalism to their property, loss of jobs, or boycotts of their business if they support unpopular views.
Over half a century ago, the Supreme Court ruled in NAACP v. Alabama that not disclosing donors to issue advocacy groups was constitutionally protected. Imagine the fury that the KKK would’ve visited upon the people supporting the NAACP.
While the threats are different today, the threats are just as real. Instead of fearing the KKK, these days, issue advocacy groups have to worry about the Justice Department, the IRS and other agents representing weaponized government.
It’s time to eliminate another disgusting part of McCain-Feingold. The sooner it’s eliminated, the better.
Technorati: McCain-Feingold, Censorship, Issue Advocacy, NAACP v. Alabama, Supreme Court, Independence Institute, Center for Competitive Politics, Civil Rights, First Amendment, Weaponized Government, IRS, DOJ