Published Articles

Daily Signal: Judge Warns 9th Circuit’s Use of Trump Campaign Pledge ‘Judicial Psychoanalysis’ (In the News)

By Fred Lucas
A federal judge is raising an alarm about “judicial psychoanalysis” resulting from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling on President Donald Trump’s executive order…
Applying campaign statements when interpreting law “sows chaos,” said Judge Alex Kozinski, who has been on the 9th Circuit since 1985, in his dissent…
The 9th Circuit majority cited three Supreme Court cases displaying precedent that “evidence of purpose beyond the face of the challenged law” can be applied in interpreting the intent of a measure…
However, those cases pertained to deliberations in making the law rather than campaign promises, noted Bradley Smith, chairman of the Center for Competitive Politics, a group that opposes restrictions on campaign speech.
“It’s definitely unusual for judges to use campaign statements to define whether an action is constitutional,” Smith, a former chairman of the Federal Election Commission, told The Daily Signal. “I doubt it would chill campaign speech, but it is a dangerous path. This could be very selectively enforced for candidates that use shorthand or off-the-cuff remarks. Already political discourse is too scripted. If this becomes a precedent, it will mean no spontaneity and pure teleprompter.”

Filed Under: Brad Smith, In the News, Quotes CCP

NPR: Trump’s White House Counsel Don McGahn Has Combative Record (In the News)

By Peter Overby
Peter Overby, Byline: Don McGahn was the lawyer for Trump’s presidential campaign committee. Like his boss, he takes a dim view of too much regulation. And like his boss, he isn’t shy about saying so. Consider this moment back in 2011, when McGahn was at the Federal Election Commission. He was arguing with another commissioner over the role of super PACs. Listen closely here.
(soundbite of archived recording)
Don McGahn: You don’t get to take matters in your own hands and take the book and just rip out the coordination rules, you know? And now my book’s complete because we don’t have the rules in there anymore.
Overby: And he tossed the ripped-out pages in the air. Brad Smith, head of the conservative Center for Competitive Politics, says McGahn worked hard to rein in FEC lawyers that he saw as overzealous.
Brad Smith: The vituperation he sometimes receives I think reflects the fact that he was very effective at, you know, what he sought to do, which was keeping the FEC within its constitutional and statutory role.

Filed Under: Brad Smith, In the News, Quotes CCP

Charleston Gazette-Mail: WV Senate Judiciary Committee eyes raising campaign funding limits (In the News)

By Jake Zuckerman
The committee reviewed Senate Bill 539, a lengthy measure that revises election finance laws down to the smallest nuts and bolts.
Counsel for the committee, Jennifer Greenlief, said the main things the bill does include increasing campaign contribution limits, increasing use of campaign funds and increasing allowances of individual expenditures…
The bill also raises the dollar amount that triggers donors’ disclosure of affiliations…
The committee heard testimony from several speakers. Speaking in favor of the bill, Deputy Secretary of State Steve Connolly said he and his department support the bill, saying it gives candidates more control over their campaigns and decreases their reliance on nondisclosed, outside money.
Also pushing the bill, Allen Dickerson, legal director of the Center for Competitive Politics, a Virginia group that advocates for the deregulation of campaign finance law, said the measure would bring the state up to federal guidelines.
During his testimony, he said he was invited by state Senate Majority Leader Ryan Ferns, R-Ohio, when asked.

Filed Under: Allen Dickerson, In the News

The Hill: Trump’s America should force the left to embrace corporate speech (In the News)

By Alex Baiocco
With confirmation hearings for President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch fast approaching, the specter of corporate influence is sure to emerge once again in the headlines. Predictably, several Democratic Senators have already begun their diatribe against “big money corporate interests” and a nominee who “does not recognize that corporations are not people.”…
Democratic politicians and organizations that support an anti-speech agenda continue to push the narrative that corporate speech rights give corporations the right to “buy elections and run our government.” This is preposterous.
Everyone recognizes that protecting freedom of speech is good and desirable. The fact that a group of citizens is operating a business should not disqualify them from First Amendment protections. No, corporations are not people. And no, money is not speech.
But corporations are comprised of people with rights. And if those people choose to exercise their First Amendment right to make a political statement, they will need to spend money to do so effectively. To say that the First Amendment does not apply to U.S. businesses is to say that the First Amendment does not apply to the people who form and operate them.

Filed Under: Alex Baiocco, In the News, Published Articles

Washington Examiner: The truth about Gorsuch’s record on ‘money in politics’ (In the News)

By David Keating & Luke Wachob
Democrats and progressives are losing their minds over President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch. One left-wing advocacy group released a video titled “3 Reasons to Fear Judge Gorsuch.” Number one? According to them, if Gorsuch is on the Supreme Court, “our elections could be completely handed over to the powerful and the wealthy.”
That ludicrous statement refers to Gorsuch’s concurring opinion in Riddle v. Hickenlooper, a campaign finance case. Riddle challenged Colorado’s contribution limit law as discriminatory.
Was it ever! It allowed major party candidates to raise twice as much money as minor party candidates and independents. Progressives love to say “money isn’t speech,” but Riddle wasn’t about that. It was about equality…
Should progressives worry that Gorsuch may rule against them on campaign finance cases? Probably, given the type of restrictions they support on your free speech.
The silly Colorado law struck down by the court – they wrote it! Common Cause and like-minded groups seeking speech limits put it on the ballot. The goal? Getting money out of politics, of course.

Filed Under: David Keating, In the News, Luke Wachob, Published Articles

Bloomberg BNA: Democrats to Probe Gorsuch Views on Campaign Finance (In the News)

By Kenneth P. Doyle
Democrats supporting campaign finance regulation have stopped short, so far, of outright opposition to Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch, but key lawmakers said the burden of proof is on Gorsuch to show he won’t help extend the line of recent court decisions that rolled back limits on money in politics…
Republicans and groups critical of campaign regulation generally have supported the Gorsuch nomination. The Center for Competitive Politics, which says it is America’s “largest nonprofit defending First Amendment political speech rights,” applauded Trump’s selection of Gorsuch as a nominee for the Supreme Court.
The judge’s “opinions show an understanding that the role of a judge is not to enact his own preferences, but neither is it to rubber stamp the legislature,” said Bradley A. Smith, a former Republican commissioner on the FEC, who is chairman of the Center for Competitive Politics. “At a time when free speech often seems on the defensive, we are pleased that President Trump has nominated someone who will defend a robust First Amendment.”

Filed Under: Brad Smith, In the News, Quotes CCP

PJ Media: South Carolina Bill Attacks Free Speech, Forces Donor Disclosure (In the News)

By Tyler O’Neil
On Tuesday, South Carolina’s Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing about S.255…
This bill is one of a number of disclosure laws which seek to fight “dark money” by requiring the disclosure of donors to issue-focused nonprofit groups which speak out on political issues…
“Politicians, in concert with activist groups, desire to make it more difficult for all but the most well-connected organizations to speak about public policy,” Scott Blackburn, research fellow at the Center for Competitive Politics (CCP), told PJ Media in an email statement.
“These type of bills are often aimed at silencing speech by exposing Americans to intimidation and harassment for voicing their opinions on issues they are passionate about,” Blackburn explained…
He laid out the formula behind such legislation: “Politician X doesn’t like a group criticizing his votes, and telling voters about it. He tries to pass a law to undermine their efforts, so that they won’t do it again. The bill affects far more speech and activity than anyone thought. Politician X doesn’t care, so long as it is harder to criticize him.”

Filed Under: In the News, Quotes CCP, Scott Blackburn

American Spectator: Gorsuch Understands How Bureaucratic Bullies Harm First Amendment Rights (In the News)

By Luke Wachob
Donald Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court, Neil Gorsuch, appears to take seriously the threat to First Amendment freedoms posed by government intimidation. His ruling in a 2007 case should encourage defenders of donor privacy.
In Van Deelen v. Johnson, plaintiff Michael Van Deelen alleged that a sheriff deputy intimidated him during a meeting with a county appraiser. Van Deelen alleged that the sheriff deputy made intimidating gestures, bumped him, and warned, “They told me to do whatever necessary to put a scare into you. If you show up for another tax appeal hearing, I might have to shoot you.”
Van Deelen argued that these intimidation tactics infringed on his First Amendment right to petition government. Judge Gorsuch’s discussion of the case demonstrates a deep understanding that First Amendment rights are harmed when citizens can be bullied out of exercising them. “When public officials feel free to wield the powers of their office as weapons against those who question their decisions, they do damage not merely to the citizen in their sights but also to the First Amendment liberties and the promise of equal treatment essential to the continuity of our democratic enterprise,” Gorsuch explained.

Filed Under: In the News, Luke Wachob, Published Articles

Daily Caller: Trump is Right: Destroy The Johnson Amendment (In the News)

By David Keating
Despite some hysterical reactions, the truth is that, as it stands, the Johnson Amendment is horribly written. It chills vital speech in violation of the First Amendment. Congress should repeal it, and pass a clear and sensible provision in its place.
The amendment was inserted into the law by a powerful senator – Lyndon Baines Johnson, who later became president. Johnson’s amendment aimed to silence groups he didn’t like. Today, the potential IRS penalty for even a minor violation of the amendment is a death sentence for any group – a complete loss of its tax exemption. That’s absurd…
No one wants churches or charities to become super PACs blessed with tax-deductible donations. That’s not what’s going to happen, and I very much doubt President Trump wants that outcome. Evangelical groups that sparked Trump’s concerns have no interest in this state of affairs either.
But do we want a law that places the IRS in a position to investigate what a preacher said from the pulpit the Sunday before Election Day?

Filed Under: David Keating, In the News, Published Articles

Pew Charitable Trusts: Lawmakers Look to Curb Foreign Influence in State Elections (In the News)

By Rebecca Beitsch
The high court ruled that corporations and unions are associations of U.S. citizens with a First Amendment right to political expression.
Hoping to take the decision a step further, proponents of bills under consideration in Massachusetts, Connecticut and Washington state would bar political spending by businesses in which non-U.S. citizens have a significant ownership stake…
But critics say having some foreign ties – especially minimal ones – should not disqualify corporations from participating in the political process.
“Corporations have a right to speak about politics. It’s a strange calculus that says we’re going to sacrifice the rights of the 95 percent American ownership for the 5 percent foreign ownership,” said Allen Dickerson with the Center for Competitive Politics, a First Amendment group that supports the Citizens United decision…
“How much of this is an attempt to prevent indirectly what we can’t do directly, which is prevent businesses from speaking? I understand there are people who don’t like Citizens United, but it’s the law,” Dickerson said.

Filed Under: Allen Dickerson, In the News, Quotes CCP