By Allen Dickerson and Zac Morgan
Thanks to the new law, if Delaware Strong wants to distribute its voter guides before the 2014 election, it must register with the state, and file reports listing the names and addresses of its donors. Essentially, the new law makes Delaware Strong a PAC – the equivalent of a Delaware branch of American Crossroads.
This is no accident. Andy Lippstone, Gov. Jack Markell’s chief legal counsel, has already admitted that the nonpartisan Delaware Strong voter guide is precisely the sort of speech the law targeted for regulation. Meanwhile, David Earley of New York University’s Brennan Center for Law and Justice does not believe “the burden [on Delaware Strong] is all that great, it is just filing a few forms and listing a few donors … it is not that big of a deal.” And The News Journal, fundamentally misunderstanding the nature of Delaware Strong’s speech, has criticized it for undermining the electorate’s ability to know who supports particular candidates – even though Delaware Strong cannot and does not support or endorse candidates.
Obviously, Delaware Strong worries that subjecting it (and other similar groups) to the equivalent of PAC status “may create a disincentive … to engag[ing] in political speech.” What’s more, “its practical effect … in this case is to make engaging in protected speech a severely demanding task.” Delaware Strong’s argument here is not a new one – this paragraph merely quotes the great liberal Supreme Court Justice William Brennan’s opinion in FEC v. Massachusetts Citizens for Life. (Interestingly, this legendary jurist is the namesake of the Brennan Center for Justice).
For more information on Delaware Strong Families v. Biden, check out this resource page.