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.”
Michigan Capitol Confidential: Harvard Study Says Michigan Elections Less Democratic Than Cuba, North Korea, Iran (In the News)
By Derek Draplin
Bradley Smith, a law professor at Capital University and an adjunct scholar with the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, said the study is “absurd” and not based on objective criteria.
“Isn’t a study that ranks Cuba, North Korean and Iran higher on a democracy list than half of the United States – from conservative Georgia to liberal New York, from tiny Rhode Island to giant Texas, self-evidently absurd?” said Smith, a former chairman of the FEC who now specializes in election law and campaign finance. “That should be enough to dismiss this silly study.”…
“The criteria is subjective, and often ideological highly contested – for example, U.S. scores were lowered in the latest survey because of recent deregulation of the campaign finance in the United States – even though those who have argued for such deregulation believe it is a huge plus for democracy,” Smith continued…
“This ‘study’ is not only not worth the paper it is printed on, it should irritate honest election specialists because it is the type of bogus study that makes people skeptical of ‘experts’ who purport to know what is best for them,” he said.
By Paul H. Jossey
Cyberspace has also reduced the relevance of government censors who oversee old-style political communications. But it also raises questions about whether the new boss, Silicon Valley tech giants, will be worse than the old. As political speech evolves, new threats emerge as old ones cling to power. The fight for free political speech isn’t over, but it has changed, and we must remain vigilant lest our freedom slip…
The Internet is an incredible human achievement. It has done more to ensure freedom and human rights than any government agency ever could. But such freedom is insecure when would-be censors exist either inside or outside government. We can guard against them by ensuring that government policy and technological processes preserve the right to speak, offend, ridicule, hate, or lie without sanction. Congress should codify Internet freedom – as in many important respects it already did when it passed the Communications Decency Act in 1996 – by amending the FEC’s enabling statute. Further rulemaking on the scope of the Internet exemption granted by the FEC would reduce the power of recalcitrant agencies to ignore it.
By Kenneth P. Doyle
A constitutional challenge to restrictions on campaign contributions to a political party has been given a go-ahead by a federal judge in Washington, D.C. (Libertarian Nat’l Comm. v. Federal Election Commission, D.D.C., No. 16-cv-121, memorandum opinion 1/3/17). The Libertarian Party’s national committee challenged restrictions imposed by Congress in 2014 when it passed a law sharply increasing the amount of money a single contributor can give to a party but limiting the uses of that increased money. The controversial 2014 law — tacked onto an approriations bill funding the federal government — boosted the total contribution a party committee can receive to more than $300,000 annually but required that most of the money be used to pay only for three purposes: party conventions, legal costs and party headquarters…
The Libertarian Party’s current challenge to FEC limits on a bequest of campaign money continues a long-running effort. An earlier challenge was dismissed as moot in 2014 by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. That court said it took so long for the case to be litigated that all the bequeathed money involved had already been paid in annual installments that complied with party contribution limits, by the time the case was ready to be decided.
Washington Examiner: Indiana robocall ban doesn’t violate First Amendment, court rules (In the News)
By Ryan Lovelace
Indiana’s Automated Dialing Machine Statute prevents a caller from using an automated telephone call that delivers a recorded message, with limited exceptions for such sources as school districts and employers.
The political action committee Patriotic Veterans Inc. challenged the law, saying it violated the group’s First Amendment rights, but the appeals court ruled that the measure didn’t discriminate based on content but rather restricted who may be called.
“Everyone has plenty of ways to spread messages: TV, newspapers and magazines (including ads), websites, social media (Facebook, Twitter, and the like), calls from live persons, and even recorded spiels if a live operator first secures consent,” wrote Judge Frank Easterbrook in the 7th Circuit’s opinion. “Plaintiff can ask its donors and potential donors to agree to receive robocalls. Preventing automated messages to persons who don’t want their peace and quiet disturbed is a valid time, place and manner restriction.”
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).
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