The Nuclear Amendment
By Tom SwansonIn other words, unlike other amendments, which give Congress and the states explicit power to regulate campaign finance (dangerous as that may be), Mr. Tester’s proposed amendment would strip corporate entities of all constitutional protection whatsoever. That means Koch Industries and Crossroads GPS couldn’t invoke the First Amendment, but it also means The New York Times and the ACLU couldn’t either. Restricting application of the Bill of Rights to “natural persons” would take the First Amendment’s guarantee of free religious exercise from churches. It would mean the Fifth Amendment no longer applies to charities and companies, giving the federal government carte blanche to regulate them and seize their property without compensation or due process.
Wall Street Journal: Where Was the Tea Party?
By Peggy NoonanOne of the great questions about the 2012 campaign has been “Where was the tea party?” They were not the fierce force they’d been in the 2010 cycle, when Republicans took back the House. Some of us think the answer to the question is: “Targeted by the IRS, buried under paperwork and unable to raise money.”…...Might targeting the tea-party groups—diverting them, keeping them from forming and operating—seem a shrewd campaign strategy in the years between 2010 and 2012? Sure. Underhanded and illegal, but potentially effective.Veuger writes: “It is a well-known fact that the Tea Party movement dealt the president his famous “shellacking” in the 2010 midterm election. Less well-known is the actual number of votes this new movement delivered—and the continuing effects these votes could have had in 2012 had the movement not been demobilized by the IRS.”
By Dave BoyerMr. Werfel declined to describe the criteria for these additional red-flag lists.“There was a wide-ranging set of categories and cases that spanned a broad spectrum,” Mr. Werfel said, adding that he had suspended the use of all “BOLO” lists.Though the investigation remains incomplete, Mr. Werfel said that he hadn’t found evidence that people outside the IRS Cincinnati office, either the Obama campaign or IRS officials in Washington, had pressured the tax agency to target conservative groups. He briefed President Obama, who appointed him to the post in May after the scandal broke, and Treasury Secretary Jack Lew on the report Monday.
By Michael BaroneMany people on the political left don’t much like the First Amendment. That seems odd to someone of my generation. In past times people who suppressed what the Supreme Court ultimately ruled speech—student armbands, nude dancing, flag burning—were usually conservatives. But now it seems that it’s mostly liberals who want to shut down speech that offends them, and it’s usually political speech which many people think was the main concern of the Founders rather than the kinds of speech referenced above.Anyway, here are some examples of liberals trying to shut down speech. Democratic Sens. Jon Tester and Chris Murphy have proposed a constitutional amendment reversing the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, which Barack Obama lamented in one of his State of the Union addresses, by denying constitutional rights to corporations. As UCLA law professor Eugene Volokh in his Volokh Conspiracy blog, that would pretty much wipe out freedom of the press and some other freedoms as well.
By Peggy NoonanRight now the IRS story looks stalled and confused. Congressional investigators are asking for documents—”The IRS is being a little slow,” said a staffer—and interviewing workers. Pieces of testimony are being released and leaked, which has allowed one congressman, Democrat Elijah Cummings, to claim there’s actually no need for an investigation, the story’s over, the mystery solved.When the scandal broke in early May, the Obama administration vowed to get to the bottom of it with an FBI investigation. Many of us were skeptical. There’s a sign we were right.
Candidates, Politicians and Parties
Wall Street Journal: The IRS’s Best Friend in Congress
By Eliana JohnsonOver the objections of Chairman Darrell Issa (R., Calif.), Rep. Elijah Cummings (D., Md.) last week released online the full, 205-page transcript of an interview that committee investigators conducted with an IRS employee in Cincinnati named John Shafer. Mr. Cummings explained that he was compelled to release the Shafer transcript because it explodes Mr. Issa’s “conspiracy theories”—chiefly, that the White House played a role in the targeting of conservative groups, and that it was orchestrated out of IRS headquarters in Washington, D.C. In fact, Mr. Issa has never said the former, and much that is known so far about the IRS scandal suggests that the Washington connection is substantial. Reuters Rep. Elijah Cummings (right) and Acting IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel at a hearing of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, June 6.Mr. Cummings’s enthusiasm for defending the IRS may make him a lonely figure among the 22 Republicans and 16 Democrats on the House Oversight Committee, but he is likely to find an ally in his chief counsel on the committee. She is Susanne Sachsman Grooms, who worked for the IRS between 2008 and 2011 as an adviser to the deputy commissioner for services and enforcement and then as a senior counselor to the chief of criminal investigations. At the time, the deputy commissioner for services and enforcement—her boss—was none other than Steven Miller, who held the post of IRS commissioner from November 2012 until his resignation in May after the scandal broke. Mr. Cummings also has a strong tie to the Obama administration: His staff director on the Oversight Committee, David Rapallo, is a former White House lawyer.
By Mary SellThe new searchable database maintained by the secretary of state’s office, fcpa.alabamavotes.gov/PublicSite/Search.aspx, is the result of 2011 legislation.“The previous database is unsearchable, you couldn’t easily search candidates’ records,” said bill sponsor Sen. Arthur Orr, R-Decatur. “The new database adds a whole new level of transparency to the campaign finance process.”
An aide to Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne is suing the state for what her lawyers call unconstitutionally low campaign finance limits.Kathleen Winn’s lawsuit asks a Maricopa County judge to declare the state’s limits so low that they violate the First Amendment’s free speech guarantee.
By Jim SwiftWhen asked whether the purchase and subsequent hosting of the domain by New York City’s Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications was accidental or intentional, La Vorgna replied that the purchase had “definitely been vetted.”La Vorgna continued, saying that Mayor Bloomberg’s push for changes to federal firearms law was part of the “federal agenda for New York City” and compared it to other efforts Bloomberg, as mayor, has undertaken—like the effort he and other mayors are involved in to limit the use of food stamps in purchasing sugary drinks.