The Hill: Facebook and the new Red Scare (In the News)

By David Keating and Paul Jossey
Various interests have seized on Russian chicanery to push “reforms” lacking priority in less neurotic times. Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Mark Warner (D-Va.) sent a “Dear Colleague” letter seeking new rules for online ads. The resulting bill would burden internet speech with suffocating rules, even possibly banning some forms of online speech. Instead of hitting the Russians, the bill instead targets American speech, press and assembly rights guaranteed by the First Amendment. In short, despite the dearth of candidate references in the Russian ads, there is already a rush to chill the world’s most dynamic speech forum…
In the rush to respond, we have to remember the most important values, which are our rights to freely speak, publish, listen, read and watch. That’s the real risk of an irrational response, whether the threats come from new laws or more speech cops at Facebook…
The government should focus on ensuring that our voting machinery is safe from foreign hackers. Protection is also needed to prevent foreign agents from stealing internal candidate campaign communications. But when the issue is speech, we must exercise great caution lest zeal to curb foreign influence instead damages our own free speech rights.

Filed Under: David Keating, In the News, Paul Jossey, Published Articles

Urban Family Talk: Stacy on the Right (Audio) (In the News)

Institute for Free Speech Attorney Zac Morgan discusses the Fist Amendment implications of the Supreme Court case Carpenter v. United States (beginning at 19:00).

Filed Under: Broadcast, Video, Audio, In the News

NBC Chicago: Current and Former Lawmakers Ask High Court to Hear Blagojevich Case (In the News)

By Phil Rogers
Emphasizing they take no position on Blagojevich’s guilt or innocence, the lawmakers emphasize the need to clarify once and for all the vagueries of campaign finance law in the United States.
“This court’s guidance is needed to distinguish the lawful solicitation and donation of campaign contributions from criminal violations of federal extortion, bribery, and fraud laws,” the lawmakers wrote in the brief filed Monday, noting that the court’s landmark McCormick decision stated flatly that political candidates can’t “realistically avoid soliciting campaign funds from the very constituents whose interests they may later advance through the support of specific legislation.” …
In a second brief filed in support of Blagojevich getting his day before the high court, the Illinois Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers agreed that the current rules surrounding campaign finance are confusing at best.
“A correct determination of what words and actions are legal and what are not legal is absolutely critical,” the defense lawyers wrote…
Two other groups also filed amicus briefs in support of the court taking Blagojevich’s case, the Institute for Free Speech, and the Center on the Administration of Criminal Law.

Filed Under: In the News

Roy Moore, Taco Bell, and How We Use Disclosure Data

Breaking news! Taco Bell is supporting Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore. How could the home of the Doritos Locos Tacos and the Cheesy Gordita Crunch do such a thing?? The reaction by the enraged? Let’s boycott. Obviously, Taco Bell is not supporting Roy Moore. But in many ways, this is the inevitable, absurdist conclusion of […]

Filed Under: Blog, Contribution Limits, Contribution Limits, Contribution Limits Press Release/In the News/Blog, Disclosure, Disclosure, Disclosure Press Release/In the News/Blog, Issues, Media Watch, Money in Politics, Super PACs, Roy Moore, Taco Bell, The Daily Beast, Alabama

American Prospect: Internet Ad Rules Bring Together Strange Bedfellows (In the News)

By Eliza Newlin Carney
When the FEC moved unanimously this month to clear the way for a rulemaking that would require small, online political ads to include disclaimers saying who paid for them, GOP election lawyer Dan Backer raised the alarm that such rules “will do nothing but keep law-abiding Americans away from political speech.” When lawmakers on Capitol Hill introduced a bipartisan bill to expand disclosure for online campaign ads, Institute for Free Speech President David Keating warned that it “would shut off an indispensable outlet for small grassroots groups to get their message out.”
It’s the same line of attack that First Amendment champions on the right have deployed to tear down all but a few of the nation’s political money rules…
Conservatives object that new internet restrictions would block ordinary Americans and small, grassroots groups from speaking freely in politics. An analysis by the Institute for Free Speech even raises the specter that the Honest Ads Act, for one, would impose the heavy hand of government on individual websites and email communications.

Filed Under: In the News, Quotes IFS

Courthouse News Service: Voters Lose Protest of Campaign-Contribution Ceilings (In the News)

By Daniel W. Staples
Upholding contribution ceilings in federal election law, the en banc D.C. Circuit rejected claims Tuesday from Florida voters who wanted to forgo campaign donations in the primary season to double up in the general election.
In 2014, the election year that prompted the underlying challenge, federal base limits prevented any individual from contributing more than $2,600 to a candidate in each election for which the candidate was competing.
Primary and general elections are considered separate elections, however, so the same donor could contribute $2,600 to the same candidate for each contest.
Laura Holmes and Paul Jost, a married couple living in Florida, challenged the scheme as an unconstitutional bifurcation of what they construed as an overall $5,200 cap…
Allen Dickerson, an attorney for Holmes and Jost with the Institute for Free Speech, called the ruling a disappointment and said they might appeal.
“The FEC has never shown that restricting campaign contributions on the basis of the time of year they are given prevents corruption,” said Dickerson, who is legal director of the institute. “Nevertheless, the Court of Appeals deferred to Congress, and left intact a situation that is illogical and unfair to both candidates and donors.”

Filed Under: In the News, In the News Our Cases

JURIST: Federal appeals court rejects challenge to campaign finance law (In the News)

By Jennifer Suder
The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on Tuesday rejected a challenge to a campaign finance law that set limits on federal donations to primary and general elections.
The law placed a per-election donation cap: $2,600 for primary elections and $2,600 for general elections.
A Florida couple, Laura Holmes and Paul Jost, brought an action against the Federal Election Commission (FEC) in 2014, arguing that they should be able to donate $5,200 during the general election, rather than being forced to split the maximum donation between the primary and general elections. Further, they argued, if spending $5,200 over both elections does not raise undue prospect of corruption, then donating all of the money during the general election should similarly be permitted.

Filed Under: In the News, In the News Our Cases

HuffPost: Giving Corporations More Power Is The Wrong Response To Russian Propaganda (In the News)

By Luke Wachob
Thanks to the Supreme Court, the government isn’t able to shut down dissenting views today. But private companies? That’s a totally different story. Private entities are not bound by the First Amendment, so when they join forces with government, our speech rights become muddled.
For power-hungry politicians, outsourcing censorship is a means to an end. Pressuring an industry into censoring itself, often with the threat of new laws in the background, can achieve in practice what the government is forbidden from doing directly. The result is the enforcement of conventional values to the exclusion of new or dissenting ideas…
Proponents of further regulating internet speech say they seek only increased transparency in online advertising. That doesn’t square with the Senate’s actions. Fierce condemnations of social media companies, fearmongering about “misinformation” and “fake news,” and misleading legislation titled the “Honest Ads Act” speak to much larger ambitions. They suggest an interest in dramatically curtailing freedom of speech online.
Our response to Russian dissemination of propaganda should punish Russia, not Americans. Rewriting the rules for political speech on the internet – or pressuring social media companies to regulate with a heavy hand – will threaten the future of legitimate, homegrown political movements in the United States. 

Filed Under: In the News, Luke Wachob, Published Articles

WJXT News4JAX: Appeals court rejects finance challenge (In the News)

By News Service of Florida
In a case brought by a Florida couple, a federal appeals court Tuesday rejected a challenge to a campaign-finance law that places limits on contributions in primary and general elections.
Laura Holmes and Paul Jost, a married couple, each backed a congressional candidate in California and Iowa during the 2014 elections.
During that election cycle, contributors were limited to writing $2,600 checks to candidates in primary elections and $2,600 checks in general elections.
In a lawsuit filed against the Federal Election Commission, Holmes and Jost did not challenge the overall $5,200 contribution limit — but said they should have been able to write $5,200 checks to their candidates for the general election instead of splitting the amount between contributions for the primary and general elections.

Filed Under: In the News, In the News Our Cases

Institute for Free Speech Statement on Ruling in Holmes v. FEC

Court Upholds Illogical Limit on Campaign Contributions Alexandria, VA –  The Institute for Free Speech released the following statement today regarding the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling in Holmes v. Federal Election Commission: “We are disappointed by today’s decision. The FEC has never shown that restricting campaign contributions on the basis of the time of year […]

Filed Under: Blog, Holmes v. FEC, Holmes v. FEC Other Links, Press Releases

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