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Posts Tagged ‘First Amendment’
May 2nd, 2017 at 9:30 am
1st Amendment Nightmare: Overturning Citizens United “Would Permit the Banning of Political Pamphlets by the Federal Government”
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In one of our latest Liberty Update commentaries, we note how leftists believe in 1st Amendment free speech rights for powerful mainstream media organizations, but not for everyday citizens like the plaintiffs in Citizens United, who need protection most of all.  A timely new book entitled “The Soul of the First Amendment” by eminent constitutional lawyer (he worked on both the Pentagon Papers case and Citizens United) Floyd Abrams surveys the history of 1st Amendment disputes, and dismantles government attempts to limit free speech.

Yesterday’s Wall Street Journal book review praises Mr. Abrams’s effort, and highlights one moment from oral argument over Citizens United before the Supreme Court, when then-Solicitor General Elena Kagan openly admitted that a ruling against the plaintiffs in that case would’ve allowed the federal government to prohibit political pamphlets:

His legal defense of the New York Times over its decision to publish the Pentagon Papers in 1971 made him a hero to the left.  Four decades later, he earned enmity from former comrades by appearing before the U.S. Supreme Court in 2010’s Citizens United case, which urged the court to affirm the right of corporations to spend money on political campaigns.  In the end, the court did – and Mr. Abrams found himself aligned with the political right.  He was particularly chilled by a statement made by Elena Kagan, then President Obama’s solicitor general and now one of the Supreme Court’s more liberal justices who, during oral argument, acknowledged that her constitutional theory would permit the banning of political pamphlets by the federal government.  Indeed, the more you may revile Citizens United (or think you do), the more essential it is to read Mr. Abrams’s principled defense of that decision and how to learn how he was persuaded to change his mind about the fundamental liberty inherent in campaign spending.”

In other words, opponents of the Citizens United decision would accept restrictions that could’ve banned The Federalist Papers or Thomas Paine’s Common Sense.  The implications of that should terrify and motivate Americans who believe in the freedom of speech for everyday citizens.

October 21st, 2016 at 10:20 am
Podcast: Prosecutorial and Government Abuses
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Timothy Lee, CFIF’s Senior Vice President of Legal and Public Affairs, discusses recent attacks by liberal opponents of free speech and CFIF’s victory in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

Listen to the interview here.

May 13th, 2016 at 7:09 am
The Suppression of Conservative Speech
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In an interview with CFIF, Mario Lopez, President of the Hispanic Leadership Fund, discusses the concerted, cross-country campaign to force private organizations to hand over to the government their donor lists, a recent federal court ruling in California that vindicates donor privacy and the allegations of suppressed conservative speech by Facebook.

Listen to the interview here.

December 18th, 2015 at 11:30 am
Yalies Say: Blow Up the First Amendment!
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Yale University last month was the scene of student protests against what Time magazine described delicately as “the racial insensitivity of the school’s administration.”

To recap: In October, lecturer and associate master Erika Christakis sent an email to her students at one of the university’s residential colleges responding to a campus-wide letter on culturally sensitive Halloween costumes. “Is there no room anymore for a child or young person to be a little bit obnoxious,” she wrote, “…a little bit inappropriate or provocative or, yes, offensive?”

Her students’ short answer: No.

Filmmaker and satirist Ami Horowitz decided to visit Yale “to take this campus free speech debate to its logical conclusion.” Horowitz asked students if they would sign a petition to repeal the First Amendment. No tricks. No funny wording. The pitch couldn’t have been more straightforward.

“The result was this unbelievable display of total stupidity,” Horowitz told Fox News.

Well, maybe not so unbelievable, as Kevin D. Williamson chronicled at National Review when the lunacy in New Haven was near its peak.

In any case, watch Horowitz’s video and see for yourself.

Yale spokesman Tom Conroy questioned the veracity of the video, telling the Daily Beast: “There are a number of heavily edited prank videos like this one circulating lately in which someone surreptitiously records people while pretending to support a position that they actually oppose, and trying to get the individuals they speak with to agree with them.”

(That Daily Beast story is best read in its entirety. Horowitz offers many interesting insights on the video, including this: “One girl had the honesty to say, ‘I don’t know what’s in the First Amendment,’” recalled Horowitz… “She pulled it up on her phone, read it thoughtfully, and said ‘Okay, I’ll sign this,’” said Horowitz. “That one blew me away.”)

Not to be outdone, Harvard’s Office for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion and the Freshman Dean’s Office last week began distributing what The College Fix describes as “holiday placemats for social justice” in college dining halls.

According to The Harvard Crimson:

[T]he placemats pose hypothetical statements on those topics and offer a “response” to each of those in a question and answer format. For example, under a section entitled “Yale/Student Activism,” the placemat poses the question, “Why are Black students complaining? Shouldn’t they be happy to be in college?” and suggests that students respond by saying, “When I hear students expressing their experiences on campus I don’t hear complaining.”

In the center of the placemat are what it calls “tips for talking to families,” with recommendations such as “Listen mindfully before formulating a thoughtful response” and “Breathe.”

That’s good advice to parents, too. Take a deep, cleansing breath and remember you’re only spending $60,000 a year for this hokum. Then have another eggnog. Maybe make it a double.

November 3rd, 2015 at 3:41 am
Larry Lessig is Out
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Larry Lessig, the Harvard Law professor who launched a quixotic, long-shot, single-issue, “so-crazy-it-just-might-work” campaign for president on Labor Day after raising $1 million (give or take*) online from his supporters, has decided to drop out of the race.

That’s too bad. With Lessig exiting the contest, that leaves the Democrats with only three candidates to prattle on about the evils of money in politics.

Lessig explains in a short video to his supporters that he needed to break into the Democratic presidential primary debates if he had any hope of running something resembling a credible campaign. He has some further thoughts on his blog: “There’s a reality that the will to reform can’t bend — like mortgage payments.”

“It is now clear that the party won’t let me be a candidate,” he says in the video. “And I can’t ask people to support a campaign that I know can’t even get before the members of the Democratic Party — or to ask my team or my family to make a sacrifice even greater than what I’ve already made,” he adds.

Lessig also displays some of the belated self-awareness that had come to characterize his campaign. “I may be known in tiny corners of the tubes of the Internets, but I am not well known to the American public generally,” Lessig said.

When he first got into the race, he promised to resign the presidency just as soon as Congress passed his campaign finance reform bill. (Cough.) At some point, he realized that was a “totally stupid” idea and jettisoned it. But campaign finance remained the driving purpose, the anima, the lodestar of Lessig’s campaign.

At the heart of Lessig’s pitch is the belief that the vast majority of Americans want to eliminate or vastly curtail “big money in politics.” In the TED talk that marked Lessig’s “coming out” as a campaign-finance crusader, he cited a poll in which 96 percent of Americans said it’s “important to reduce the influence of money in politics.”

A more recent New York Times/CBS News Poll of American adults (the least trustworthy of demographics for polling purposes) found 46 percent of respondents think the campaign finance rules need “a complete overhaul.” Another 39 percent said “fundamental changes” are in order.

And yet the supposed demand never quite pans out. Lessig barely cracked 1 percent in the polls. Democrats Lincoln Chaffee and Jim Webb, who dropped out of the race last week, didn’t do much better. But because the Democratic National Committee changed the way it evaluates a candidate’s polling to determine participation in the televised debates, Lessig had no chance of getting any meaningful national exposure.

Of Clinton, Sanders, and O’Malley’s campaign finance reform proposals, Lessig said: “Until we end the corruption that has crippled Congress, none of their promises are even credible.” If so, then his promises were even less credible. The others at least have a constituency.

Just last week, the Times reported how Lessig’s campaign “endures in relative obscurity”:

Despite raising more money than Mr. Chafee, Mr. Webb and several Republicans, Mr. Lessig’s candidacy is not considered serious by many analysts or party leaders, who see him as an activist and gadfly. He did not dispel that notion when he introduced himself as a “referendum” candidate who would step down as president once he managed to overhaul the campaign finance system.

After spending years defending Internet freedom, he came to see corruption in politics as a monster that must be defeated, and he did not let go of the cause. Last year, Mr. Lessig started a “super PAC to end all super PACs,” and in September, he set his sights on the White House.

Back at Harvard, where he is on leave, Mr. Lessig’s cause has been met with a mix of bemusement, encouragement and concern.

“Larry’s a terrific guy, but I don’t think that because you have a very important project, that therefore you should be in charge of all the millions of things the president is in charge of, including foreign policy,” said Charles Fried, a conservative Harvard Law School professor who gave Mr. Lessig $100 anyway.

According to OpenSecrets, Professor Lessig raised the most money (around $93,000) from the Boston area. “Donors from a Cambridge zip code were the most generous.”

Perhaps he’ll have better luck next year with his Mayday PAC.

*For what it’s worth, Lessig took umbrage and responded to the Washington Free Beacon‘s reporting.

October 29th, 2015 at 12:18 pm
CFIF Opposes Burdensome New FEC Disclosure Rule
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The Center for Individual Freedom (“CFIF”) this week submitted comments to the Federal Election Commission (“FEC”) in response to a petition requesting the FEC establish a new rule requiring corporations and other organizations – specifically 501(c)(4) not-for-profit groups – that contribute to independent-expenditure-only committees (Super PACs) to do so through a separate segregated account subject to burdensome disclosure requirements.

CFIF opposes the proposed rule on grounds that it contradicts the unambiguously expressed intent of Congress and thereby exceeds the FEC’s statutory authority, that it would not serve the purposes ostensibly advanced by the petition, and that it would burden core First Amendment speech.

The petition for rulemaking was filed by Make Your Laws PAC, Inc. and Make Your Laws Advocacy, Inc.  CFIF’s comments were prepared by Wiley Rein, LLP.

Read CFIF’s comments here.

July 16th, 2015 at 5:06 pm
Wisconsin’s “John Doe” Prosecutions Come to an Ignominious End
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One of the more disturbing stories of political censorship of the past half-decade just came to a close in Wisconsin. The state’s Supreme Court ruled 4-2 on Thursday that a section of Wisconsin’s campaign finance law is “unconstitutionally overbroad and vague.” Moreover, the court said, a special prosecutor appointed by Milwaukee District Attorney John Chisolm to probe allegedly unlawful coordination between Governor Scott Walker and independent activist groups during the 2011 and 2012 statewide recall campaigns ended up investigating perfectly legal activities.

In short, the political fishing expedition against Badger State conservatives is finished.

Here are a few backgrounders on the investigation, which made prime targets of Wisconsin Club for Growth executive director Eric O’Keefe and at least 28 other activist groups.

A (very) short version: In 2013, the Milwaukee DA’s office and special prosecutor Francis Schmitz began hitting activists with subpoenas demanding everything from emails and memos to donor lists. As one judge would later put it, Schmitz’s subpoenas were “so extensive that they make the fruits of the legendary Watergate break-in look insignificant by comparison.” Although the subpoenas just happened to coincide with the beginning of Walker’s reelection campaign for governor, prosecutors denied any political motivation for the probe. (What? Did you think they would affirm a political motive?)

O’Keefe and Wisconsin Club for Growth sued Schmitz, et. al., contending the state’s investigation violated their First Amendment rights. A federal court last year agreed, halting a probe that had involved—among other things—SWAT teams conducting pre-dawn raids on citizens’ homes as if they were no different than drug peddlers or mob capos. Such abuses were made possible by Wisconsin’s “John Doe” law, which allows prosecutors to operate in secret—and thus without any meaningful public scrutiny or accountability.

As the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports, “Large sections of court filings have been blacked out—which is highly unusual” because of the law, which lets prosecutors the power to compel people hand over documents and give testimony while forbidding them from speaking about the investigation with anyone except their lawyers. Such proceedings may be common in national security and certain criminal cases, but applying the law to a campaign-finance law investigation smacked of political persecution—which the court recognized.

Writing for the majority, Justice Michael Gableman blasted Schmitz’s conduct of the investigation and made a vigorous defense of political liberty. Here’s the key passage from the ruling:

It is utterly clear that the special prosecutor has employed theories of law that do not exist in order to investigate citizens who were wholly innocent of any wrongdoing. In other words, the special prosecutor was the instigator of a ‘perfect storm’ of wrongs that was visited upon the innocent Unnamed Movants and those who dared to associate with them. It is fortunate, indeed, for every other citizen of this great State who is interested in the protection of fundamental liberties that the special prosecutor chose as his targets innocent citizens who had both the will and the means to fight the unlimited resources of an unjust prosecution. Further, these brave individuals played a crucial role in presenting this court with an opportunity to re-endorse its commitment to upholding the fundamental right of each and every citizen to engage in lawful political activity and to do so free from the fear of the tyrannical retribution of arbitrary or capricious governmental prosecution. Let one point be clear: our conclusion today ends this unconstitutional John Doe investigation.(Emphasis added.)

Although Thursday’s ruling is a triumph for the First Amendment, a peculiar censorious instinct remains alive and well among Madison’s progressive elite. In dissent, Justice Shirley Abrahamson wrote her colleagues’ theme music ought to be “Anything Goes.

“The majority opinion adopts an unprecedented and faulty interpretation of Wisconsin’s campaign finance law and of the First Amendment,” Abrahamson wrote. “In doing so, the majority opinion delivers a significant blow to Wisconsin’s campaign finance law and to its paramount objectives of ‘stimulating vigorous campaigns on a fair and equal basis’ and providing for ‘a better informed electorate.'” It’s hard to see how pre-dawn raids and secret proceedings lead to “fair and equal” campaigns or a “better-informed” electorate, rather than a chilled political climate where dissenters from received partisan wisdom risk incurring the wrath of zealous prosecutors.

Wisconsin’s legislature is turning its attention to overhauling the state’s campaign-finance laws. In particular, some Republicans would like to do away with the “John Doe” provisions. Eliminating arbitrary and capricious rules from the statute books shouldn’t be a partisan matter. Wisconsin has seen what a political prosecution looks like. Avoiding a repeat of such abuses would seem to be a cause both parties could support.

September 9th, 2014 at 11:39 am
Former FEC Chairman Pans So-Called DISCLOSE Act of 2014
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In an interview with CFIF, Bradley Smith, Founder of the Center for Competitive Politics and former Federal Elections Commission Chairman, discusses the numerous flaws of the so-called DISCLOSE Act of 2014. 

Listen to the interview here.

August 23rd, 2014 at 5:20 pm
Podcast: Lawsuit Further Exposes IRS Scandal
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In an interview with CFIF, Lori Lowenthal Marcus, Co-founder and President of Z STREET, discusses her organization’s ongoing lawsuit against the IRS, and how an IRS employee informed her that her organization’s tax exempt status application was delayed because the group was “connected with Israel” and expressed opposition to the Obama Administration’s foreign policy.

Listen to the interview here.

July 7th, 2014 at 8:59 am
Podcast: The “Lost” IRS Emails
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In an interview with CFIF, Hans von Spakovsky, Manager of the Election Law Reform Initiative and Judicial Studies at The Heritage Foundation, discusses Lois Lerner’s “lost” e-mails, how the Justice Department is not taking the IRS investigation seriously and other recent IRS scandals.

Listen to the interview here.

May 9th, 2014 at 1:31 pm
Podcast: Donor Disclosure Requirements Infringe on First Amendment Rights
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In an interview with CFIF, Allen Dickerson, Legal Director at the Center for Competitive Politics, discusses why the California Attorney General’s demand for the list of supporters to a non-profit organization damages freedom of association, violates the clear terms of a federal tax law and ignores the Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution.

Listen to the interview here.

February 17th, 2014 at 10:47 am
The IRS’ Latest Target: The First Amendment
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In an interview with CFIF, Peter Roff, contributing editor at U.S. News & World Report, discusses the Obama Administration’s use of the IRS to silence its critics by limiting the First Amendment rights of tax exempt groups.

Listen to the interview here.

November 26th, 2013 at 4:44 pm
The Walls Close in on Civil Society
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A few weeks ago, I wrote a column here entitled “America’s Fascist Moment.” I generally try to avoid such loaded terms in print, but the reason I used that other F-word was precisely because we’ve allowed its common connotation to obscure its actual meaning.

People usually associate ‘fascism ‘with the worst kinds of authoritarians, especially Adolf Hitler. And, true enough, Hitler was an extreme example of a fascist at work. Generally, however, fascism is a bit more subtle than that (really, though, what isn’t more subtle than the Third Reich?).

What the term actually means is erasing the lines between the state and civil society; ensuring that everything we do is tied to the government. In the famous formulation of Benito Mussolini, it’s “All within the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state.” Needless to say, that’s about as far away as you can get from the traditional American notion of limited government, where the state is only valuable insofar as it serves the people, not the other way around (for the single best volume on this, I recommend Jonah Goldberg’s truly fantastic Liberal Fascism).

When history renders its ultimate judgment on the Obama Administration, any fair reading will note the deep fascist tendencies that pervade this Administration. If you need any proof, you need only look at the headlines of the past few days.

First, you’ve got the President exhorting his disciples to use Thanksgiving dinner to harangue family members about Obamacare, even going so far as to provide pages worth of printable talking points to his minions (I recently took this up at Ricochet).

Then you’ve got the Administration’s continued efforts to force employers to violate their consciences and provide birth control for their employees even if it violates the teachings of their faith, a fight that it was announced today will head to the Supreme Court in the spring.

Finally, there’s the news that Obama’s Treasury Department is proposing cracking down on tax-exempt status for non-profit groups that engage in what the Administration believes to be too much political activity. Liberals and conservatives alike should understand the grave danger that would come with giving the Executive Branch that kind of power to regulate political activity. There’s no such thing as a free polity where those in power get to punish those who aren’t simply for voicing their opinions.

Having a free society, however, doesn’t seem to be a priority for the Obama Administration. This is an Administration that would rather beat its enemies while violating the noblest traditions of American government than lose because they stood on principle. You’d be hard-pressed to think of another White House that ever threatened liberty so directly and so consistently.

May 30th, 2013 at 2:29 pm
Press Boycotts Holder’s Off the Record Discussion of First Amendment

It looks like there’s at least one crack emerging in the mainstream media’s impenetrable defense of the Obama administration.

The heads of the Associated Press, New York Times, Huffington Post and CNN will not attend an off-the-record meeting with Attorney General Eric Holder to discuss new guidelines for conducting leak investigations involving journalists, reports CNN’s Political Ticker.

Their absence will deprive Holder of a much needed credibility boost as he tries to rehabilitate his standing among the media’s power brokers.

The Attorney General is already reeling from two trust-destroying revelations. First, that he stepped aside to allow subordinates at the Department of Justice to go on a fishing expedition by subpoenaing “thousands and thousands” of phone calls from the AP in an unprecedented attempt to identify the source of a leak. Second, that he personally signed off on a search warrant of James Rosen that called the Fox News reporter a “co-conspirator” for gathering information.

Now, with these pillars of the liberal media establishment boycotting Holder’s secret confab, it looks like the AG needs to do the one thing he hates most: Speak candidly in public.

November 26th, 2012 at 6:30 pm
A Sooner State Win for School Choice

Rachel Sheffield of the Heritage Foundation shows the depths sunk to by opponents of school choice:

Last Tuesday, Oklahoma’s special-needs students received a pre-Thanksgiving win. The state’s Supreme Court ruled that two school districts that had challenged the legality of the Lindsey Nicole Henry Scholarship Program—a voucher program for special-needs students—were out of line in bringing the lawsuit.

The school districts had challenged the scholarship program on the basis that it violated the state’s Blaine Amendment by allowing scholarship money to be used at religious schools. Other opponents of school choice programs have time and again brought similar claims to the courts.

Eric Baxter of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty said that the Supreme Court’s decision in this case “is a great victory for both religious freedom and the disabled.”

“Let’s hope the school districts drop their paranoia that allowing disabled kids to go to a private religious school of their choice somehow creates an official state church for Oklahoma,” said Baxter. “The message from the Supreme Court today is unequivocal: These school districts should stop spending taxpayer dollars suing their most vulnerable students and focus on what they are supposed to be doing—teaching kids.”

Here, here!

No one seriously thinks that allowing a college freshman to spend taxpayer money on tuition at a religious university violates the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause.  The same holds true when a high school senior attends a sectarian primary or secondary school.  That school choice opponents would try to deny disabled children the same freedom of choice available to able-bodied adults shows how badly the public sector wants to maintain its monopoly on students.

September 25th, 2012 at 3:18 pm
Obama Continues Foreign Policy by Apology at the U.N.
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In my column last week, I noted how preposterous it was that the Obama Administration continued to bend over backwards to distance itself from the video (falsely) claimed to have ignited the recent round of violence in the Middle East:

Speaking shortly after the attacks, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton pronounced, “that the United States government had absolutely nothing to do with this video. We absolutely reject its content and message… to me personally, this video is disgusting and reprehensible. It appears to have a deeply cynical purpose: to denigrate a great religion and to provoke rage.”

Let’s assume for a moment that Clinton is right and that the film was made for the express purpose of working global Islam into a lather. Even taking that as a given, should the apology come from the nation of 300 million where one man produced some two-bit agritprop or from the part of the world where thousands took to the streets in violence because of a bit of inert satire tamer (and, remarkably, less coherent) than the average “Saturday Night Live” episode?

Speaking earlier today at the United Nations General Assembly, President Obama prolonged the inanity:

That [violence and intolerance] is what we saw play out the last two weeks, as a crude and disgusting video sparked outrage throughout the Muslim world. I have made it clear that the United States government had nothing to do with this video, and I believe its message must be rejected by all who respect our common humanity. It is an insult not only to Muslims, but to America as well – for as the city outside these walls makes clear, we are a country that has welcomed people of every race and religion. We are home to Muslims who worship across our country. We not only respect the freedom of religion – we have laws that protect individuals from being harmed because of how they look or what they believe. We understand why people take offense to this video because millions of our citizens are among them.

I know there are some who ask why we don’t just ban such a video. The answer is enshrined in our laws: our Constitution protects the right to practice free speech.

Contra the president, this video doesn’t demonstrate “intolerance.” Stupidity? Yes. Bad filmmaking? Yes. Garden variety prejudice? Maybe. But being critical of the beliefs of others, even to the point of gratuitious rabble-rousing, is not the same thing as “intolerance.” The filmmakers were tolerating Islam; they weren’t advocating that anyone be silenced or harmed. By contrast, Islamists who engaged in violence to the point of cold-blooded murder ostensibly because of a YouTube video were the intolerant ones.

The cherry on top of this whole debacle was the President’s statement on the video to the ladies(?) of The View. As reported by the Weekly Standard:

In the age of the Internet, and you know, the way that any knucklehead who says something can post it up and suddenly it travels all around the world, you know, every country has to recognize that, you know, the best way to marginalize that kind of speech is to ignore it.

Not a terrible idea. And you know what’s a great way to begin implementing this strategy? Not devoting paragraphs to this film at the U.N. when we know that it wasn’t the catalyst for the recent blood lust.

September 18th, 2012 at 12:52 pm
Breaking: CFIF Wins Historic First Amendment Court Victory
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This is why we do what we do, and why CFIF’s mission is important.

Today, in conjunction with the Hispanic Leadership Fund, CFIF secured a critical victory on behalf of the First Amendment rights to free speech and free association.  In a unanimous decision that arrived just four days following oral argument on the issue, a notably quick turnaround time when rulings typically arrive months later, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit reversed, vacated and remanded a recent lower court decision infringing upon the right of the people to engage in protected speech and associate in privacy.  The case was initiated by Representative Chris Van Hollen (D – Maryland), who apparently never internalized the First Amendment’s explicit provision that, “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people to peaceably assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

Vindicating the Supreme Court’s Citizens United and Wisconsin Right to Life decisions, the Court of Appeals noted the muddled nature of campaign finance regulations generally:

After reviewing the record with care, we conclude that the District Court erred in holding that Congress spoke plainly when it enacted 2 U.S.C. § 434(f), thus foreclosing any regulatory construction of the statute by the FEC.  The statute is anything but clear, especially when viewed in the light of the Supreme Court’s decisions in Citizens United v. FEC, 558 U.S. 310 (2010), and FEC v. Wis. Right to Life, Inc. (“WRTL II”), 551 U.S. 449 (2007).”

This constitutes an enormous and welcome win for the freedoms of speech and association, one that all who value the First Amendment can celebrate.

September 18th, 2012 at 10:23 am
Islamism’s Threat to Free Speech
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From CNS News:

Six months after declaring that all churches in the Arabian peninsula should be destroyed, Saudi Arabia’s top cleric called at the weekend for a global ban on insults targeting all religious “prophets and messengers,” a category that, from a Muslim perspective, includes Jesus Christ.

Saturday’s demand by Saudi grand mufti Sheikh Abdul Aziz Al-Asheikh came on the same day that another of Sunni Islam’s most prominent figures, Egypt’s Al-Azhar University grand imam Ahmed el-Tayyeb, made a similar appeal.

Lest we think this is a phenomenon isolated to the Middle East, let us remember that there is no idiotic attempt to suppress liberty abroad that won’t find a sympathetic ear in our own State Department. Under the Obama Administration, Foggy Bottom has gone out of its way to accommodate the Islamic world’s fervor for anti-blasphemy laws by acceding to sympathetic UN resolutions. This may seem like nothing more than superficial bridge-building, but we know the course these impulses can take in the West, as embodied by the growing trend of aggrieved Muslims attempting to use liberal sensitivity to “hate speech” as a way to exact punishment on their critics from the judicial system.

The islamists’ tactics give the lie to their ideology. On one hand, they want us to believe that they represent a powerful, ascendant culture. On the other, their attempts to forcibly silence their critics betrays a deep and pervasive insecurity.

Great societies disprove their detractors. Weak ones send them to the stocks.

June 25th, 2012 at 3:31 pm
Brevity Is the Soul of Sound Jurisprudence – Supreme Court Strengthens Free Speech
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Somewhat lost amid today’s Supreme Court ruling on Arizona’s SB 1070, the Court reinforced First Amendment free speech rights as affirmed in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission.  In fact, the Court did so without the need for full review, oral argument and exhaustive written briefing.  Demonstrating in this instance that brevity is the soul of sound jurisprudence, the Court in American Tradition Partnership v. Bullock overturned a Montana Supreme Court decision favoring a ban on political speech that flatly contradicted Citizens United.  The single-page majority opinion is notable for its cogency:

A Montana state law provides that a “corporation may not make . . . an expenditure in connection with a candidate or a political committee that supports or opposes a candidate or a political party.”  Mont. Code Ann. §13–35–227(1) (2011).  The Montana Supreme Court rejected petitioners’ claim that this statute violates the First Amendment.  2011 MT 328, 363 Mont. 220, 271 P. 3d 1.  In Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, this Court struck down a similar federal law, holding that “political speech does not lose First Amendment protection simply because its source is a corporation.”  558 U. S. ___, ___ (2010) (slip op., at 26) (internal quotation marks omitted).  The question presented in this case is whether the holding of Citizens United applies to the Montana state law.  There can be no serious doubt that it does.  See U. S. Const., Art. VI, cl. 2. Montana’s arguments in support of the judgment below either were already rejected in Citizens United, or fail to meaningfully distinguish that case.

The petition for certiorari is granted. The judgment of the Supreme Court of Montana is reversed.

It is so ordered.”

The First Amendment, the Constitution itself and free speech have been vindicated.

March 13th, 2012 at 12:24 pm
Feminist Trio Trying to Use FCC to Shut Down Limbaugh
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Oh, those champions of free expression on the left. From the Daily Caller:

Three stalwarts of the feminist movement — Gloria Steinem, Jane Fonda and Robin Morgan — have added their voices to the calls to take radio giant Rush Limbaugh off the air.

The co-founders of The Women’s Media Center put pen to paper over the weekend to request that the public complain and urge the Federal Communications Commission to revoke the licenses of stations that carry “The Rush Limbaugh Show.”

“This isn’t political. While we disagree with Limbaugh’s politics, what’s at stake is the fallout of a society tolerating toxic, hate-inciting speech,” they wrote. “For 20 years, Limbaugh has hidden behind the First Amendment, or else claimed he’s really ‘doing humor’ or ‘entertainment.’ He is indeed constitutionally entitled to his opinions, but he is not constitutionally entitled to the people’s airways. It’s time for the public to take back our broadcast resources.”

It’s amazing, isn’t it? The left — which see McCarythism around every corner — instinctively turns to government force to squelch the opinions of those they despise. And as for “toxic, hate-inciting speech” … well, Limbaugh wasn’t the one cheering on the Viet Cong, Ms. Fonda.