The folks over at the Institute for Justice are calling out MoveOn.org for their hypocrisy in its protests of Target. In case you haven’t heard, the retailer is under fire for giving donations to Tom Emmer, a Republican that is opposes gay rights.
MoveOn.org’s premise is that a corporation shouldn’t be giving money to a candidate, playing off of the populist, anti-political speech sentiment that was a result of the Citizens United decision. The Institute for Justice calls the anti-liberty PAC out:
As we’ve noted, Target has drawn heavy fire for its donation to an organization that’s speaking out in support of Minnesota gubernatorial candidate who opposes gay marriage. One of the latest examples of this criticism is a humorous viral video featuring a flash mob that performs a song called “Target Ain’t People”—set to the tune of Depeche Mode’s hit song “People are People”—in the middle of a Target store as employees and customers look on with varying degrees of bemusement.
Out in California, the Fair Political Practices Commission is looking at regulating new platforms for political speech, such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, even text messaging:
It’s become necessary as politicians in California and elsewhere announce their candidacies and major campaign policies through Twitter, YouTube and a host of social networking sites, said FPPC Chairman Dan Schnur.
He said California’s 36-year-old Political Reform Act needs rewriting to keep up with the times.
“Our goal here is to meet the new challenges of 21st Century technology,” Schnur said. “There’s no way that the authors of the act could have anticipated that these of types of communicating a campaign message would ever exist.”
To paraphrase Chief Justice John Roberts, this is why we don’t leave our free speech rights in the hands of FPPC bureaucrats. To bureaucrats like those at the FPPC, the Federal Election Commission or their analogues, there seems to be no need to show any evidence that Twitter, Facebook or text messages actually pose any threat to the public. It is enough that they these new forms of low-cost media aren’t currently regulated, but could be. Their primary concern, apparently, is that the regulation of political speech be as comprehensive as possible.
Despite the fact that Democrats are pushing the DISCLOSE Act, which was successfully filibustered by Republicans yesterday, Tim Carney writes that they Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) doesn’t have a problem with a corporate influence in politics as long as it runs through Washington, DC:
In January, when the Supreme Court ruled in the Citizens United case that Congress shall, in fact, make no law abridging the freedom of speech, Schumer warned, “This opens the floodgates and allows special interest money to overflow our elections and undermine our democracy.” Schumer, as the top recipient of money from Wall Street, real estate, and the insurance industry, knows about being awash in special-interest money.
So is he just blowing smoke? Not exactly. Citizens United overturned a federal ban on organizations using money to praise or critique politicians just before Election Day. In other words, businesses, unions and activist groups are now as free to talk about Chuck Schumer’s proposals as Chuck Schumer or the New York Times are. This is no good for Schumer, not only because it makes it easier for criticism of him to reach Americans’ tender ears, but also because it allows groups and businesses to go over his head, so to speak.
The most telling episode was probably Chuck Schumer’s hedge-fund racket. Once Democrats took over Congress in 2007, Schumer told fund managers to start playing ball. The industry multiplied its lobby spending by six, hired a former congressman to head its trade association, and — of course — ramped up giving to Schumer and other Senate Democrats. Then the hedge funds hired Schumer’s banking staffer, Carmencita Whonder, as a lobbyist. She’s now a leading fundraiser for Schumer.
Republicans managed to block the DISCLOSE Act, legislation aimed at curbing political speech in response to the Citizens United decision, from coming to the floor for limited debate and final passage this afternoon by a vote of 57 to 41 (60 votes are needed for cloture).
Here are the members of the United States Senate that voted against the right to free speech protected by the First Amendment (Reid voted against it so he can bring it up again, as per Senate Rules):
The Institute for Justice brings us The Citizens United Debate, where Steve Simpson and Ilya Shapiro (arguing for the First Amendment) debated Richard Hasen and Jamin Raskin (arguing against the First Amendment) on the Citizens United decision by the Supreme Court from earlier this year that has reignited debate on campaign finance law.
Here is the first part of the debate:
If Elena Kagan is confirmed to the Supreme Court, she may not help ObamaCare when and if comes before the the court. Michael Cannon explains:
Kagan has already told the committee she would recuse herself from any case in which she “participated in formulating the government’s litigating position.” Given that she appears to take an expansive view of Congress’ power to regulate interstate commerce, the best possible outcome for opponents of ObamaCare would probably be for Kagan to join the Court but recuse herself from cases challenging that law.
That would also be the worst possible outcome for the administration. In fact, universal coverage is so important to the Left that if Kagan would leave them with one less pro-ObamaCare vote on the Court, I wouldn’t be surprised to see President Obama withdraw her nomination. He could then appoint someone as ideologically reliable as Kagan, but who could actually defend the president’s signature accomplishment.
This could get interesting.
I don’t trust Antonin Scalia or Anthony Kennedy, but the court does seem to have it out for President Obama since his absurd comments about the Citizens United case, an opinion authored by Kennedy, during his State of the Union address.
After the controversial Citizens United ruling, supporters of campaign finance reform argued that something - anything - had to be done to protect the American electoral system from the evils of corporate influence. The attempt is the DISCLOSE Act that is worming its way through the system. To bad it won’t actually hurt the corporations that proponents think they’re targeting.
You see, since Citizens United, it has become clear that the government can’t legally ban political speech. They may want to, but they can’t. Since they’re limited, all that can really do is make it more difficult to get a message out. This effort has ultimately resulted in the “stand by your ad” provision that requires disclosure of who the ad is by, who paid for it, etc.
Many opponents argue that this will require almost half of a 30 second spot, effectively limiting the time available for a message. That’s the theory anyways. In practice though, it may simply up the cost to get that message out there. Now, instead of a 30 second spot, a full minute will be needed.
A minute is a lot of time as far as advertising goes. It’s not something that comes cheap by any means, especially at the network level where advertising on national campaigns is typically done. It’s the kind of cost that smaller groups simply can’t afford, but the corporations that President Obama and his administration fear monkeying with electoral politics have plenty of money for such things.
Even if they hadn’t gotten their precious carve out, the NRA could have handled a full minute of network prime time. GeorgiaCarry.org? Not so much.
Here’s a hypothetical example:
During the oral arguments in Citizens United case (actually, a rearguing), Elena Kagan told the Court that a book could be banned if the authors purpose was “express advocacy” of a particular issue or candidate, but that there “has been no administrative practice of ever applying” campaign finance laws to that extent.
You can listen to Kagan’s exchange with Ginsburg, Scalia and Alito below. You can read it here (pages 64-68):
Over at Reason, Daniel Shuchman points out that the government’s argument had changed since the first oral argument:
In the first argument before the Court, on March 24, 2009, Kagan’s deputy, Malcolm L. Stewart, represented the government by arguing for the constitutionality of a statute prohibiting corporations and unions from spending funds from their general treasuries to advocate the election or defeat of political candidates. The justices subjected Stewart to a series of stark hypothetical situations testing the extent of the censorship power that the Obama Administration viewed as constitutionally permissible.
“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.” - First Amendment, Bill of Rights
The National Rifle Association’s betrayal is one step closer to becoming law as the DISCLOSE Act, which is aimed at curbing the Supreme Court’s decision in the Citizens United case, passed the House yesterday by a vote of 219 to 206:
Democrats, hoping to rein in special-interest spending before November’s midterm elections, pushed the measure, which would impose broad new disclosure rules on political spending.
The bill, approved by a 219-206 vote, was opposed by Republicans who cast it as violating free-speech protections and filled with exemptions for powerful groups, such as the National Rifle Association and labor unions. The measure was crafted by Democrats “to help their friends, while silencing their political opponents,” House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, said during floor debate today.
But the bill’s chief architect, Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md.,said the legislation would ensure “the voice of citizens is not drowned out by secret spending.”