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.
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.”
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.”
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.
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?