By Dave Levinthal
In its latest “Principles of Corporate Governance” report, the Business Roundtable encourages corporate members to decide for themselves whether to publicly disclose political activities, such as contributing cash to so-called “dark money” nonprofit groups…
But David Keating, president of the nonprofit Center for Competitive Politics, which advocates for political speech rights, disagrees, calling the Business Roundtable’s latest statement on political disclosure “unremarkable.”
Keating – whose legal efforts led to the creation of super PACs – noted that the Business Roundtable’s Principles of Corporate Governance document scolds corporate shareholders who attempt “to use the public companies in which they invest as platforms for the advancement of their personal agendas or for the promotion of general political or social causes.”…
In sum, the Business Roundtable “does not appear to have softened its stance on voluntary disclosure,” Keating said. “Disclosing one’s affiliations with trade associations and nonprofits creates a roadmap for activists to pressure corporations in an attempt to starve [politically active nonprofit] groups of support and silence their voices.”
By Dave Levinthal
Concurring Opinions: FAN 141 (First Amendment News) Judge Neil Gorsuch – the Scholarly First Amendment Jurist (In the News)
By Ronald K.L. Collins
“Judge Gorsuch is a serious, accomplished jurist who will defend a robust First Amendment.” There is truth there, in David Keating’s assessment of the First Amendment opinions of Judge Neil Gorsuch…
If one scans what we now know of the arc of Judge Gorsuch’s views on the First Amendment and free expression, it is readily apparent than he has long and informed commitment to the First Amendment. Should that continue, and it seems likely to, he could well become the First Amendment point-person on the Court.
David Keating: “Judge Gorsuch’s record suggests he will be a strong defender of free speech rights if confirmed to the Supreme Court. He wrote or joined opinions on a wide variety of topics related to free speech, including campaign finance, petition clause and defamation cases. Each time, he ruled for free speech. He applies real scrutiny in constitutional challenges and is a terrific writer. Not only are his opinions a joy to read, they are clear.”
“It’s ironic that President Trump nominated a judge who wrote or joined four opinions in cases brought against the media. Each time Gorsuch ruled for the media defendants.”
The Intercept: Trump Denounced “Broken System” of Big Money Politics. Neil Gorsuch Could Make It Worse. (In the News)
By Jon Schwarz
It’s particularly easy to imagine a Supreme Court with Gorsuch striking down all remaining contribution limits, since it’s already moving in that direction. In 2014, four years after Citizens United, the Court struck down something that Buckley had held was constitutional: a limit on the aggregate amount any individual could give to all candidates overall per election cycle. It was already set at a level almost no Americans could imagine donating, $48,600. But now the super-rich can give as much as they want to candidates across the U.S. as long as no single one gets more than $5,400.
Notably, Justice Clarence Thomas voted to strike down the limit and wrote a concurring opinion stating that all contribution limits are unconstitutional…
So it’s no surprise that the places like the Center for Competitive Politics, a D.C.-area think tank that exists to dismantle all limits on money in politics, is thrilled by Gorsuch’s nomination – in particular because in his Riddle v. Hickenlooper opinion Gorsuch appreciates “the legal uncertainty surrounding levels of scrutiny” of contribution limits.
By Ilya Somin
Judge Neil Gorsuch is a well-respected jurist and a better Supreme Court nominee than I expected from Donald Trump. In retrospect, I underestimated Trump’s incentive to appease more conventional Republicans by selecting a Supreme Court justice they liked…
Despite my reservations on some issues, Judge Gorsuch might well turn out to be an excellent Supreme Court justice. I am somewhat reassured by co-blogger Sasha Volokh’s discussion of his record on civil liberties, and by this analysis of his limited record on free speech. At the very least, he cannot be dismissed as a mere crony of Trump’s.
NPR: South Dakotans Voted For Tougher Ethics Laws, But Lawmakers Object By Peter Overby South Dakota’s citizen-led experiment to “drain the swamp” of political corruption appears to have lasted less than three months. Lawmakers in the state Senate voted 27-8 Wednesday to repeal the voter-approved initiative and send the measure to the governor. The legislation […]
Bill of Rights Defense Committee & Defending Dissent Foundation: What Does Neil Gorsuch Mean for Civil Liberties? (In the News)
By Sue Udry
On a few issues, Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court, Neil Gorsuch, is not abominable. But overall, he is cut from the same cloth as Antonin Scalia, and is likely not a man we can count on to cast the deciding vote for liberty from the bench…
Gorsuch doesn’t have a long record here, but a few cases unearthed by David at the Center for Competitive Politics support media freedoms against claims of defamation or invasion of privacy. Gorsuch also ruled against a Colorado law limiting campaign contributions, because they were applied unequally to third parties. His opinion argued that “a state cannot adopt contribution limits that so clearly discriminate against minority voices in the political process without some “compelling” or “closely drawn” purpose – and Colorado has articulated none.”
By Peter Overby
Voters in South Dakota adopted a package of ethics and campaign finance reforms in November. Now the legislature is declaring a state of emergency in order to repeal it.
(Ed. Note: CCP Research Fellow Scott Blackburn featured at 2:00)
New York Times: South Dakota Legislators Seek Hasty Repeal of Ethics Law Voters Passed (In the News)
By Monica Davey and Nicholas Confessore
Stung by scandal and rebelling against a state government known for its resistance to public scrutiny, South Dakota voters narrowly approved a ballot measure in November to impose ethics oversight and campaign finance restrictions aimed at cleaning up the capitol in Pierre…
Some organizations that oppose restrictions on political spending in the name of free speech said that the South Dakota initiative was poorly drafted and overly broad. David Keating, the president of the Center for Competitive Politics, said the measure as written was likely to be mired in state and federal litigation for years.
“It was one of the most poorly written proposals we’ve seen,” Mr. Keating said. “I think there’s a legitimate worry that the legislature has and the governor has, which is that this could be in the courts for a long time, and it could cost a lot of money to litigate it. So why not start with a clean sheet?”
By Dan Curran
Is the era of marketing arrogance coming to an end?
The 2016 presidential election made it painfully clear that conventional tactics can spell doom. Politicians come and go, but the real losers are the marketing fools who helped Jeb with his exclamation mark and offered Hillary #ImWithHer.
Blaming bad slogans is oversimplifying these foiled, expensive campaigns, but the fact remains: Antiestablishment marketing methodologies have officially bypassed “Mad Men”-era tactics.
Consider these numbers: According to the Center for Competitive Politics, Clinton’s campaign outspent Trump’s by more than double. Pro-Clinton TV ads outnumbered pro-Trump ads by an even larger margin: 383,512 to 125,617. And at $159.3 million, more money was spent on Bush than Trump during the primaries. Yet he defeated both.
By Jim Stinson
Not every Republican or conservative likes the idea of getting rid of the Senate filibuster, which allows just one senator to keep a bill or Supreme Court nominee from getting a vote on the Senate floor.
The filibuster prevented an unbridled Obama agenda when Democrats had control of the White House and Congress from 2009 to 2011, some say.
“Republicans should beware,” said Bradley A. Smith, chairman of the Center for Competitive Politics. “Imagine Obama unchecked by filibuster. Republicans did a lot to stop his agenda, even if many don’t realize that.”
Smith thinks much can be done without nuking the filibuster completely.
Smith expects Republicans will push Democrats’ anti-filibuster rule to include Supreme Court nominees. And for Obamacare, they’ll take care of repeal through “budget reconciliation.” That prevents a filibuster.
“Much of what Obama did was done through executive orders and regulatory ‘policy statements,’ precisely because GOP blocked it in Congress,” said Smith. “So that stuff can be easily undone without Congress.”