Say Anything Blog: Free Speech Group Says Ethics Ballot Measure May Violate the 1st Amendment (In the News)

Say Anything Blog: Free Speech Group Says Ethics Ballot Measure May Violate the 1st Amendment

By Rob Port

“North Dakota’s current campaign finance and lobbying laws are already unclear. The initiative could raise serious First Amendment concerns because of the additional vague rules it appears to impose on citizens and groups that wish to speak about public matters and state government,” says Eric Wang, a senior fellow at the Institute for Free Speech.

Wang is talking about the ballot measure to create an ethics commission which will be Measure 1 on the statewide ballot in November. He notes in a thorough analysis of the measure that, in addition to creating an ethics commission, it would also institute a host of new restrictions and regulations on political speech which probably aren’t in keeping with the 1st amendment…

One notable criticism Wang has of the measure is this passage from Section 1: “The legislative assembly shall implement and enforce this section by enacting, no more than three years after the effective date of this article, laws that require prompt, electronically accessible, plainly comprehensible, public disclosure of the ultimate and true source of funds spent in any medium, in an amount greater than two hundred dollars, adjusted for inflation, to influence any statewide election, election for the legislative assembly, statewide ballot-issue election, or to lobby or otherwise influence state government action.” …

“Such a law appears to be unconstitutionally vague and overbroad,” Wang writes. “The initiative’s reporting requirements would also appear to require filings by media organizations for any news reporting or opinions that could ‘influence any …election’ or ‘state government action’,” he continues.

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