This week marks the 40th anniversary of the Staggers Rail Act of 1980, which deregulated American freight…
CFIF on Twitter CFIF on YouTube
Happy 40th to the Staggers Rail Act, Which Deregulated and Saved the U.S. Rail Industry

This week marks the 40th anniversary of the Staggers Rail Act of 1980, which deregulated American freight rail and saved it from looming oblivion.

At the time of passage, the U.S. economy muddled along amid ongoing malaise, and our rail industry teetered due to decades of overly bureaucratic sclerosis.  Many other domestic U.S. industries had disappeared, and our railroads faced the same fate.  But by passing the Staggers Rail Act, Congress restored a deregulatory approach that in the 1980s allowed other U.S. industries to thrive.  No longer would government determine what services railroads could offer, their rates or their routes, instead restoring greater authority to the railroads themselves based upon cost-efficiency.

Today, U.S. rail flourishes even amid the coronavirus pandemic…[more]

October 13, 2020 • 11:09 PM

Liberty Update

CFIFs latest news, commentary and alerts delivered to your inbox.
Jester's CourtroomLegal tales stranger than stranger than fiction: Ridiculous and sometimes funny lawsuits plaguing our courts.
Pelosi House’s Top Priority: Chilling First Amendment Speech and Privacy Rights Print
By Timothy H. Lee
Thursday, January 10 2019
Collecting and maintaining donor profiles only opens the door to vindictive government officials, employers, neighbors or anyone with a grudge to obtain such sensitive information in order to target others out of sheer political disagreement.

Well, the new Nancy Pelosi-led House of Representatives has made its top priority clear. 

It's outing American citizens for their political beliefs and the causes they support, threatening our First Amendment freedoms of speech, association and political participation. 

Among the provisions of the just-introduced H.R. 1, to which they’ve affixed the Orwellian title "For the People Act of 2019," donors to non-profit organizations would have their identifying personal information forcibly disclosed to government authorities and potential hackers. 

Pelosi, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D - New York) and leftists insist on knowing which causes and types of organizations you support, even if those organizations don't even endorse or oppose political candidates. 

What could possibly go wrong? 

This sort of agenda possesses a long and sordid history.

In fact, a unanimous U.S. Supreme Court condemned the practice in a 1958 decision involving segregationist state government demands to access identifying information on supporters of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in NAACP v. Alabama.  The Court rightfully recognized that forcing the NAACP to surrender its membership rolls to antagonistic government officials or vindictive members of the general public would threaten members' safety and the organization's very existence: 

"This Court has recognized the vital relationship between freedom to associate and privacy in one's associations.  Compelled disclosure of membership in an organization engaged in advocacy of particular beliefs is of the same order.  Inviolability of privacy in group association may in many circumstances be indispensable to preservation of freedom of association, particularly where a group espouses dissident beliefs."

More recently, rogue IRS officials like Lois Lerner have targeted organizations and donors whose viewpoints they find objectionable.  Similarly, state attorneys general have sought access to donor and membership information, so that they could harass and silence groups and their supporters. 

Moreover, the potential threat isn't limited to malfeasant government officials, whether at the federal, state or local levels.  As just one example, donor records for the National Organization for Marriage were leaked, exposing those donors to potential harassment or even worse threats.  Across the nation, people have been terminated from employment, stalked at their homes and had their workplaces picketed merely because they supported causes that someone out there detested. 

That sort of harassment is only possible if government is allowed to forcibly collect and retain information identifying people for the beliefs they support.  And for years, that's exactly what it did. 

Until very recently, the IRS required non-profit organizations to file something known as a "990 Schedule B" form.  Those forms revealed the names, addresses and other private information regarding many of the organizations' donors.  That, in turn, exposed those donors to the sort of targeting and threats described above. 

Here's the kicker:  The IRS was prohibited by law from actually utilizing that private information for any substantive purpose.  In other words, all that collecting such private information did was expose people to harassment, since government officials wouldn't use it for official business. 

Fortunately, the Trump Administration finally ended that practice of IRS collection last year.  It clarified that non-profit groups would no longer be forced to surrender the sort of private identifying information on certain donors to the government. 

A subsequent effort by Senators Jon Tester (D - Montana) and Ron Wyden (D - Oregon) to overturn the Trump Administration action last year rightfully failed.  But now Pelosi and the more leftist House she leads stubbornly seek another shot. 

There's simply no defensible logic to reviving the old practice.  The only thing that collecting private information on donors does is frighten people away from supporting causes that people like Pelosi or Schumer find intolerable.  Collecting and maintaining donor profiles only opens the door to vindictive government officials, employers, neighbors or anyone with a grudge to obtain such sensitive information in order to target others out of sheer political disagreement. 

This effort deserves to die yet another death, and American citizens should not be misled into believing that it's anything other than a threat to our First Amendment freedoms. 

The Trump Administration merits our praise for its fortitude on this issue, and the cause demands our continued vigilance. 

Question of the Week   
Which one of the following was the first 20th century presidential candidate to call for a Presidential Debate?
More Questions
Quote of the Day   
 
"We can return to the explosive job creation, rising wages and general prosperity we had before the pandemic. We can have economic freedom and opportunity, and resist cancel culture and censorship. We can put annus horribilis, 2020, behind us and make America great again, again. We can do all this -- if we make the right choice on Nov. 3.The New York Post endorses President Donald J. Trump for re-…[more]
 
 
—The Editors, New York Post
— The Editors, New York Post
 
Liberty Poll   

Do you believe Republicans will continue to hold a majority in the U.S. Senate following the 2020 election?