By Dave Stafford
A political organization that argued Indiana’s ban on telephone robocalls disfavored political speech and was content discrimination got a terse reply from the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals Tuesday.
“We don’t get it,” Circuit Judge Frank Easterbrook wrote in Patriotic Veterans, Inc. v. Greg Zoeller, Attorney General of Indiana, 16-2059. “Nothing in the statute … disfavors political speech. The statute as a whole disfavors cold calls (that is, calls to strangers), but if a recipient has authorized robocalls then the nature of the message is irrelevant.”
Bans on computer-assisted robocalls that deliver recorded messages have been sustained in two circuits. But Patriotic Veterans sued to block I.C. §24-5-14-5 after South Carolina’s law was overturned and after the Supreme Court of the United States struck down an Arizona town ordinance regulating the content of signs in Reed v. Gilbert, 135 S. Ct 2218 (2015).
By Dave Stafford
Daily Caller: High Court Should Hear First Amendment Case Against Bullying Bureaucrats (In the News)
By Wen Fa
For most of his career, Nebraska resident Bob Bennie happily conducted his business as a successful financial advisor without government harassment.
But that changed after he was quoted in a newspaper making controversial remarks about President Obama.
Suddenly, Bennie had a bullseye painted on his back by regulators who oversee his industry. The regulators relentlessly harassed Bennie’s employer until Bennie’s managers fired him from his job.
Now, the U.S. Supreme Court is poised to decide whether to hear Bennie’s civil rights lawsuit against these vengeful bureaucrats. Everyone who values free speech should hope the justices take his case and make it clear that government can’t treat the exercise of First Amendment freedom as a punishable offense…
The Supreme Court is scheduled to consider Bennie’s case on January 6. Eight states, nine law professors, and four free-speech advocacy groups have joined Bennie in urging the justices to grant review.
Filed Under: In the News
By Mark Hrywna
California Gov. Jerry Brown officially nominated Congressman Xavier Becerra to replace Attorney General Kamala Harris…
Becerra isn’t expected to stray far from Harris’ perspective on charity regulation. The California Attorney General’s Office has been embroiled in litigation regarding its regulations to require filing donor information for a number of years…
The Center for Competitive Politics, Americans for Prosperity Foundation, Thomas More Law Center, and Citizens United Foundation all have challenged the regulations by state charity officials in California and New York in court.
During a hearing in May on a bill that would prohibit the Treasury Secretary from requiring that the identity of contributors to nonprofits be included in annual returns (H.R. 5053), Becerra warned that the legislation could create a loophole for foreign governments or others to use their money to influence government without disclosure.
By Fred Smith
Wall Street Journal columnist Kimberley Strassel has written an insightful, important book on the Left’s efforts to drive market-friendly voices from the public square. A skilled investigative journalist, Strassel documents the extensive efforts to suppress political opposition, intimidate dissidents, and weaken the First Amendment.
Strassel notes that attacks on speech-and defenders of it-have come from both parties. She traces the history of campaign “reform” initiatives, accompanying court challenges, and bipartisan support for “transparency” and “accountability.” Readers will gain clarity, but little comfort, from her chronicle of culture and politics conspiring to weaken free speech…
Strassel extols Bradley Smith, a law professor and member of the Federal Election Commission during George W. Bush’s presidency. Smith alerted conservatives to the risks of disclosure, helping them understand and challenge this policy. His work on campaign finance laws and disclosure requirements strengthened Republican resistance.
By Paul H. Jossey
While Weintraub accuses McGahn of refusing to accept the law, her actions show a disdain for Citizens United unbefitting her role. She penned an op-ed titled “Taking on Citizens United” where she seeks to “blunt its impact” with proposals that are almost certainly unconstitutional. She has absurdly misrepresented it as stating, “corporations are people” to sow public confusion. And she has used its guise to hold political-advocacy conferences at the FEC – making disturbing xenophobic overtures based on unproven charges that aliens might be influencing U.S. elections…
Beyond disdain for Supreme Court rulings, Weintraub is loath to follow the FEC’s own regulations. For example, along with fellow Democrat Ann Ravel, Weintraub has repeatedly refused to apply the FEC’s decade old regulations exempting much internet activity from regulation. The regulation is valid. Weintraub simply no longer likes it…
Another FEC doctrine Weintraub often ignores is the media exemption. Over the past few years, she and the other Democrats have refused to apply the exemption to network debate rules, a documentary filmmaker, or a book publisher.
By Brad Smith
In a country as large and diverse as the United States, a system that forces candidates to campaign away from the people who already control the nation’s financial, cultural and governmental hubs is a good thing. The Electoral College forces candidates to build broad-based coalitions that cover the country.
Our constitution is full of anti-majoritarian provisions. The Bill of Rights places limits on what popular majorities can do through government. Texas has more people than the six New England states combined, but federalism prevents Texans from imposing their tax and spending priorities on New England states. It’s hard to imagine this country holding together if pure majoritarianism was the basis of power.
The Electoral College does not assure that the president will have received the most popular votes, but it does assure that the president will have won with substantial popular support, and that his support will not be restricted to one region of the country or to a handful of coastal metropolises. This is ample reason to support a system that, in just five of 49 elections, has gone against the nominal popular vote winner.
By Editorial Board
According to data compiled by the Center for Competitive Politics, the number of ads by Clinton and her supporters outnumbered the number of pro-Trump ads by 3-to-1. Meanwhile, outside groups raised and spent more than three times as much to tout Mrs. Clinton as to promote Mr. Trump.
Not only did the Clinton cash machine fail to deliver a win, the Democratic candidate actually did worse where her spending was highest. In the six states she directed the most financial resources – Florida, Ohio, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Nevada and Iowa – Mrs. Clinton and her supporters ran 3.3 ads for every one supporting Mr. Trump. Yet Mrs. Clinton wound up losing all of those states except Nevada.
Excessive, fruitless spending wasn’t limited to the Clinton campaign. Each of the three biggest-spending super PACs supported candidates who lost. PACs backing Mrs. Clinton, Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio dropped $275 million on the race, with Mrs. Clinton the only one who made it to the general…
Democrats love to complain about political spending. But they’ve shown time and again that they’re willing to shell out as much as it takes to guarantee victory. Trouble is, money is no guarantee of anything.
Los Angeles Times: Taxpayers’ group sues Gov. Brown to overturn law allowing public financing of campaigns (In the News)
By Patrick McGreevy
A taxpayer group has filed a lawsuit against Gov. Jerry Brown that seeks to invalidate a new law that will allow public funds to be used for political campaigning.
The lawsuit was filed in Sacramento Superior Court by the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Assn. The legal challenge says that a law signed by Brown in September that allows cities and counties to use public financing for political campaigns violates Proposition 73, which voters approved in 1988 and prohibits public funds from being used in campaigns.
“It runs directly contrary to the expressed language of the Political Reform Act,” Jon Coupal, president of the association, said on Tuesday. He said the law cannot be changed without another vote of the people.
By Bob Bauer
There is a long history of congressional pressure for the appointment of Commissioners with dependable perspectives on the constitutional limits of regulation and the reasonableness of specific statutory interpretations… Republicans even before McGahn have strongly favored more permissive readings of the rules, more insistence on what they judged to be the constitutional limits.
And the Republican party and its congressional leaders could be fierce in advancing their positions. They pressed successfully for the nomination of one Commissioner who wrote a book expressing the view that the 1970’s federal campaign finance reforms were in material respects, in both design and enforcement, incompatible with the First Amendment…
And during the period of McGahn’s tenure, he had the Supreme Court’s jurisprudence running in his direction. This was a Court, after all, that in Citizens United endorsed the dark view, expressed by Justice Kennedy for the majority at the time, that the FEC exercises “power analogous to licensing laws implemented in 16th- and 17th-century England, laws and governmental practices of the sort that the First Amendment was drawn to prohibit.” 558 U.S. 310, 335 (2010).
By Nick Cahill
Gov. Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 1107 on Sept. 9, eliminating a longstanding, voter-approved ban on public financing of local campaigns. While the bill breezed through the Legislature, its critics have not quieted down.
The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association and a former judge sued the governor on Monday, claiming that changes to the Political Reform Act require voter approval…
“We think this is a pretty clear violation of the [state] constitution,” said Anthony Caso, plaintiffs’ attorney. “Any actions taken to enforce this are going to be an illegal expenditure of taxpayer money.”
Political law attorney Chuck Bell and Allen Dickerson with the Center for Competitive Politics also represent the plaintiffs.
he taxpayer association and Quentin Kopp, a former state senator and retired San Mateo County Superior Court judge, request an injunction to stop the amendments from taking effect on Jan. 1. They want SB 1107 ruled invalid and sent to voters on a statewide ballot.