Censoring political speech in the Live Free or Die state

The pending ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court in Citizens United is expected to free up businesses, unions, and nonprofit advocacy corporations to voice their opinions with minimal restraint in elections. For those of us who believe strongly in the First Amendment and the right of all citizens to speak either individually or collectively, the anticipated striking down of the 1990 Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce and a good chunk of McCain-Feingold will be a welcome development.

But from the Granite State comes a tale that demonstrates just how imperiled political speech will continue to be even if/when Austin meets its well-deserved demise. According to at least one judge in New Hampshire, speech by business entities can be restrained by such things as consumer protection laws and other regulations on commercial speech, even when the speech is plainly political in nature.

Filed Under: Blog, New Hampshire

Scholarships, ethics law on Ill. lawmakers’ agenda

Filed Under: In the News

Opinion: Freedom makes real reform tricky

Filed Under: In the News

FEC meeting features coordination regulations

Today’s FEC meeting featured minimal discussion and disagreement as the commissioners introduced and unanimously passed two notices of proposed rulemakings: one addressed federal election activity and the other — the issue that packed the seats in the 9th floor hearing room at 999 E St. — addressed coordinated communications.

The FEC also unanimously passed three advisory opinions: (1) allowing the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee to file bundling reports quarterly instead of monthly, (2) affirming the Illinois Green Party as a state party committee and (3) — the most interesting AO — allowing a Virginia PAC and fund affiliated with the Sierra Club to conduct “voter drives,” air ads with express advocacy targeting local (non-federal) candidates, and air issue ads. The FEC’s AO concluded that the Sierra Club organizations at issue are not “political committees” subject to the FEC’s allocation regulations (11 CFR 106.6).

Filed Under: Blog

Assembly committee talks campaign finance reform

Filed Under: In the News

SpeechNow.org hearing set

Today, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit set oral argument for SpeechNow.org’s appeal of an earlier prelimary injunction ruling. The Dec. 4 hearing in SpeechNow.org v. FEC will be before a three-judge panel: Circuit Judges Henderson and Griffith and Senior Circuit Judge Williams.

Filed Under: Blog, Disclosure, Disclosure Press Release/In the News/Blog

Hayward moderates FENA discussion

George Mason University Law School Asst. Prof. — and CCP board member — Allison Hayward moderates this discussion of the Fair Elections Now Act hosted by the Federalist Society.

The panelists are Craig Holman of Public Citizen and William Maurer of the Institute for Justice.

Filed Under: Blog

EMILY’s List v. FEC

Filed Under: Media Resources

Ohio Right to Life Society v. Ohio Elections Commission

The Court’s pending ruling in Citizens United v. FEC may directly impact Ohio Right to Life (ORTL) v. Ohio Election Commission in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio. The Center for Competitive Politics, along with Benesch, Friedlander, Coplan, & Aronoff, is representing ORTL in its challenge of state “electioneering communications” regulations. Last September, the court granted ORTL a preliminary injunction, freeing the court to engage in issue advocacy in the 2008 general election. The court ruled that Ohio couldn’t bar ads near elections that didn’t meet the Wisconsin v. Right to Life v. FEC (WRTL II) test of express advocacy. The court also prevented the state from enforcing certain source prohibitions (from unions and corporations) on such ads. The third prong of ORTL is what Citizens United may determine — whether Ohio’s electioneering communications disclosure law is unconstitutional as applied to any ad that doesn’t meet the WRTL II express advocacy test of being “susceptible of no reasonable interpretation other than as an appeal to vote for or against a specific candidate.”

Filed Under: Media Resources

SpeechNow.org v. FEC

SpeechNow.org is a case challenging the FEC’s ruling that two or more citizens cannot join together to air ads urging the defeat or election of specific candidates for federal office without registering as a political committee and being subject to a $5,000 contribution limit per donor.

Filed Under: Media Resources

The Center for Competitive Politics is now the Institute for Free Speech.