Independent Speech

This weekend in campaign finance

With the second anniversary of the Citizens United decision coming up this Saturday, reform groups are  pulling out all the stops to protest the decision.  Between  coming up with impossibly forced acronyms and enacting whatever solution they came up with during their anti-CU house parties, the reform community should probably prepare for another Supreme Court case. However, […]

Filed Under: Coordination, Independent Speech, Political Committees & 527s, Super PACs, District Of Columbia

The First Amendment…United

In this article, CCP Academic Advisor Joel M. Gora, a Professor of Law at Brooklyn Law School, offers a through recounting of the outcomes of the much maligned Supreme Court case, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. The article defends the case by highlighting the Court’s endorsement of First Amendment protections for the political speech of corporate, labor, and non-profit entities. In doing so, the Court reversed statutes which had previously made it illegal for these groups to speak out in elections. Aside from several more minor immediate effects, Gora explains that the lasting legacy of Citizens United lies in its enthusiastic support for the First Amendment. While overviewing the arguments of the “reformers,” who wish to regulate the political speech of the aforementioned entities, the article illustrates the deficiencies of their viewpoints when weighed against long-standing First Amendment principles. Ultimately, Gora predicts that the Citizens United decision will enable the further erosion of current speech-chilling regulatory measures—a legacy of the “reformers'” stamp on the existing campaign finance landscape.

Filed Under: Expenditure, First Amendment, Independent Speech, Issue Advocacy, Jurisprudence & Litigation, Research, Joel Gora, First Amendment, Jurisprudence & Litigation, First Amendment, Jurisprudence & Litigation

The Citizens United Election? Or Same As It Ever Was?

In this article, Michael M. Franz analyzes the effects of campaign advertising on elections with a focus on the 2010 mid-term campaigns. So what impact did the easing of restrictions on independent spending, as a result of the Supreme Court decision in Citizens United, have on the process and outcome of the 2010 mid-term elections? This popular question, which Franz attempts to answer in this analysis, has been asked by supporters and opponents of campaign finance regulation alike. Using data from the Wesleyan Media Project, Franz was able to determine that an increase in political activity by interest groups did not have the negative or large impact that was predicted by many opponents of the Citizens United decision. Ultimately, Franz echoes many skeptics of campaign finance reform by calling for a scaling back of limits on political parties, so that the groups that are designed to facilitate democracy may do so more easily.

Filed Under: Independent Speech, Issue Advocacy, Research

Keep Out: How State Campaign Finance Laws Erect Barriers to Entry for Political Entrepreneurs

In this report, the author explains how forms of state legislation stifle the political speech of political entrepreneurs, those individuals and organizations who form and grow new political voices and movements. Specifically, the report examines the effects of two types of state campaign finance regulations that act as barriers to independent citizen groups:  contribution limits and political action committee (PAC) requirements. A lack of appreciation for the role of political entrepreneurs in promoting innovative public policy and electoral competition on the part of those in power has resulted in the erection of barriers for outside groups who wish to speak out. The report concludes that instead of encouraging civic engagement, states are attacking independent political advocacy through unnecessary, speech-limiting regulations.

Filed Under: Contribution Limits, Contribution Limits, Contributions & Limits, External Relations Sub-Pages, First Amendment, Independent Speech, Issue Advocacy, Research, Super PACs, campaign contributions, Contribution, Contribution Limits, Disclosure, Expenditure, Political Committees & 527s, Contributions & Limits, Disclosure, Expenditure, Political Committees & 527s, Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming

Citizens United, Citizens’ Lives: A comparison of states with and without prohibitions on corporate independent expenditures

President Obama has claimed that the U.S Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission will empower “powerful interests” to “drown out the voices of everyday Americans.” In an analysis of state-specific data, CCP president Sean Parnell dispels this myth that the “public interest” will be adversely affected by the elimination of limits on independent political spending. CCP compared several policy and general welfare indicators considering that 24 states restricted political spending pre-Citizens United (contrasted with the 26 states which allowed unlimited independent spending). In this analysis, CCP demonstrates that there is no positive correlation between corporate spending and policy outcomes. There is no evidence that freedom for corporations, unions and advocacy groups to exercise their First Amendment rights in 26 states has caused any adverse impact on policy compared to the 24 states that restricted such spending.

Filed Under: Contribution Limits, Contribution Limits, Contributions & Limits, Independent Speech, Issue Advocacy, Research, First Amendment, Independent Speech, Jurisprudence & Litigation, First Amendment, Independent Speech, Jurisprudence & Litigation

After Citizens United

In this law review article, Michael S. Kang analyzes the trends in the Supreme Court’s rulings on campaign finance cases in light of the landmark decision in Citizens United v. FEC. Kang argues that Justice Anthony Kennedy’s views are driving the direction of the Roberts Court towards a narrower justification for government regulation of campaign […]

Filed Under: Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, External Relations Sub-Pages, First Amendment, Independent Speech, Issues, Research, Super PACs, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, First Amendment, super PACs, Supreme Court, First Amendment, Independent Speech, First Amendment, Independent Speech

Locking Up Political Speech: How Electioneering Communications Laws Stifle Free Speech and Civic Engagement

Under the guise of campaign finance “reform,” government regulation of political speech has spread far beyond the mere financing of campaigns to monitor and control everyday political speech by ordinary citizens.  The latest wave of such regulation is state and federal laws targeting so-called “electioneering communications.”  The term is most closely associated with the federal Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002, and describes broadcast ads that merely mention a federal candidate and that air shortly before an election.  Soon after the U.S. Supreme Court upheld that law, states began to follow suit.  Fifteen states now have “electioneering communications” laws, and more are considering them, and most of those laws impose more onerous requirements and cover more political speech than the federal law.

Filed Under: Independent Speech, Issue Advocacy, Research, Florida

Social Pressure and Voter Turnout: Evidence from a Large-Scale Field Experiment

In this article, the authors perform a large scale analysis to determine the effects of “robocalling” on voter turnout. The authors determine that turnout increases only marginally when civic duty is primed, but increases significantly when social pressure is applied to establish a norm of civic duty. The authors therefore surmise that “robocalling” is wholly unable to affect voter turnout, which contrasts with critics’ charge that automated political telephone calls drive down voter participation. They conclude that, in order to affect voter turnout, exterior pressures from social norms would have to exist.

Filed Under: Independent Speech, Research, Uncategorized, Independent Speech, Independent Speech

Campaign Finance Red Tape: Strangling Free Speech & Political Debate

Raymond J

Twenty-four states provide citizens the ability to make laws directly through ballot measures. However, these states also strictly restrict the First Amendment rights of citizens to speak out about these ballot measures. As such, various disclosure requirements result in complex registration and reporting requirements that are difficult for even the most highly educated citizens to decipher. In an effort to prove this, the author used an innovative experiment, where a sample of 255 citizens was asked to complete actual disclosure forms. Unsurprisingly, not one person completed the forms correctly. Using these findings, the author argues that these disclosure laws are both unnecessary and an obstacle to the free speech guaranteed to all.

Filed Under: Disclosure, Disclosure, Expenditure, First Amendment, Independent Speech, Issue Advocacy, Research, campaign contributions, Contribution, Contribution Limits, Disclosure, Expenditure, Contributions & Limits, Disclosure, Expenditure, California, Colorado, Missouri

Free Speech and the 527 Prohibition

Stephen M. Hoersting’s briefing paper for Cato Institute questions the constitutionality and wisdom of regulating independent Section 527 organizations. He believes that measures to make independent section 527 organizations into “political committees” under the Federal Election Campaign Act, would leave much activity unregulated and would induce a shift of activity from one legal structure to another, thus rendering any perceived partisan advantage arising from the measures improbable or incalculable. Therefore, says Hoersting, organizations engaged in independent speech and association with no connection to candidates or officeholders cannot be made to register with the Federal Election Commission simply because they mention candidates.

Filed Under: Independent Speech, Issue Advocacy, Research, Political Committees & 527s, Political Committees & 527s