The Federalist: You Can’t Fight Hate With Censorship, Says Former ACLU President (In the News)

By Zac Morgan
Just recently, a federal court in Oregon prevented a public high school from banning an anti-immigration T-shirt from its campus, notwithstanding the shirt’s capacity to be viewed as offensive, even hateful. According to Nadine Strossen’s latest volume, ‘Hate: Why We Should Resist It with Free Speech, Not Censorship’, this is an outcome to be celebrated-not merely because it comports with the Constitution, but because so-called “hate speech” bans are unconstitutional and ultimately counterproductive.
‘Hate’ is a slim volume, consisting of nine chapters where Strossen, a former president of the American Civil Liberties Union, makes her case. The book presents itself as an accessible legal brief aimed at the social justice left, which appears to be forsaking its 1970s-era robust view of free speech, as well as First Amendment practitioners looking for a distillation of the state of play…
Strossen makes the case that if hate speech laws were on the books throughout the last half of the twentieth century, there would have been no civil rights era, and precious little advance of the gay rights agenda in the twenty-first century.
After all, hate speech laws, like all laws, must be enforced by the state-and in a democratic society, that means the present majority. The law is a blunt and powerful censorial tool that, as Strossen demonstrates using examples from Europe to Africa, is often used in actual practice to silence the minority groups “hate speech” laws purport to protect…
Ultimately, Strossen counsels that people must listen to one another, persuade, convince, and when necessary-without state coercion-apologize. Not only is this more effective than enacting hate speech codes, people of all sides might come to simply “know better.” And people cannot do that if the state gets in the way.

Filed Under: In the News, Published Articles, Zac Morgan

The Hill: Americans are smart enough to handle free speech at ballot box (In the News)

By Zac Morgan
If you’ve ever scrolled through Facebook or Twitter, or taken a look at bumpers as you sat in traffic, you know Americans are expressive people. For this, we can thank the First Amendment, which protects even vulgar expression. Indeed, in 1971, the Supreme Court upheld the right of Paul Robert Cohen to wear his jacket, which urged sexual relations with the wartime draft, in a courthouse.
Today, the Supreme Court will hear arguments in a less salacious, but no less important, First Amendment case. Minnesota Voters Alliance v. Mansky asks whether Americans may be barred from wearing “political apparel” when casting a ballot. This policy led to a voter being threatened with prosecution for the “crime” of wearing a nonpartisan t-shirt inspired by the Gadsden flag, the “Don’t Tread on Me” symbol flown by patriots during the American Revolution.
Certainly, if the First Amendment protects profane apparel in a courthouse, Americans ought have the right to wear our opinions at the moment we the people decide who should govern…
At an absolute minimum, as my organization, the Institute for Free Speech, urged in our amicus brief in this case, the Supreme Court should instruct state and local governments to find the middle ground: Only apparel expressly urging a vote for or against a specific candidate on that day’s ballot may be excluded. This line, called “express advocacy,” has been applied and policed in campaign finance law for a generation.

Filed Under: In the News, Published Articles, Zac Morgan

USA Today: Listen up Supreme Court: Warrantless tracking of smartphones violates our rights (In the News)

By Zac Morgan
On Nov. 29, the Supreme Court will review whether the government can get this information without a warrant. The case, Carpenter v. United States, will decide if the Fourth Amendment protects your information.
But the case also raises serious First Amendment issues about the right to free and private association.
Consider what happened during the 1950s when pro-segregation Southern states tried to get the NAACP’s membership list. Those states justified that effort using a range of governmental powers, including corporate registration, legislative investigations, and tax laws. Each time, no matter the excuse, the Supreme Court said no…
If the government can get location data of attendance at private gatherings, there’s little need to demand a membership list…
The Institute for Free Speech filed a brief in Timothy Carpenter’s case raising these concerns. Two left-leaning racial justice organizations, Color of Change and the Center for Media Justice, joined the brief. So did Americans for Prosperity Foundation and Tea Party Patriots, right-leaning organizations which advocate for limited government. Our brief warned that the “chilling effects from this invasive form of government oversight will do grave damage to the First Amendment.” 

Filed Under: In the News, Published Articles, Zac Morgan

Comments to FEC on Potential Rulemaking on Internet Communications Disclaimers

PDF of letter available here Via Electronic Filing Att’n: Neven F. Stipanovic Acting Assistant General Counsel Federal Election Commission 999 E Street N.W. Washington, D.C. For the third time in six years, the Federal Election Commission (“FEC” or “Commission”) has requested comments “on whether to begin a rulemaking to revise its regulations concerning disclaimers on […]

Filed Under: Blog, Disclosure, Disclosure Comments, Disclosure Federal, Disclosure Press Release/In the News/Blog, External Relations Comments and Testimony, Federal, Federal Comments and Testimony, disclaimers, FEC, federal election commission, Foreign Influence, Internet Speech Regulation

Significant Constitutional and Practical Issues with Connecticut House Bill 5589

The Honorable Joe Aresimowicz The Honorable Themis Klarides RE:  Significant Constitutional and Practical Issues with House Bill 5589 Dear Speaker Aresimowicz, Minority Leader Klarides, and Members of the Connecticut House of Representatives: On behalf of the Center for Competitive Politics (“Center”), we respectfully submit the following comments addressing significant constitutional and practical concerns with House […]

Filed Under: Blog, Disclosure, Disclosure, Disclosure Comments, Disclosure State, External Relations Comments and Testimony, Issues, State, State Comments and Testimony, Super PACs, coordination, disclaimers, foreign nationals, Connecticut

CSG v. Gessler: Secretary of State’s Answering Brief (Colorado Supreme Court)

Secretary of State’s Answering Brief (CO Supreme Court)   Download PDF here.

Filed Under: CSG v. Gessler, All CCP Legal Documents, CSG v. Gessler, Current Cases (Filings)

A Response to Ken Vogel

This Wednesday, January 21st, CCP will be holding a conference on Citizens United v. FEC’s fifth anniversary. As we all know, Citizens United struck down bans on corporate and union political activity, and combined with the en banc D.C. Circuit’s unanimous opinion in SpeechNow.org v. FEC[1] just a few months later, allowed outside groups other […]

Filed Under: Blog

Forbes: When It Comes To Political Donations, There Is Such A Thing As Too Much Disclosure (In the News)

By Zac Morgan In 1905, Theodore Roosevelt used the bully pulpit of his annual message to Congress on the State of the Union to advocate for “the full and verified publication in detail of all the sums contributed to and expended by the candidates or committees of any political parties.” The result, the President declared could not “but […]

Filed Under: In the News, Published Articles

National Review: Does Religious Speech Threaten Democracy? (In the News)

By Zac Morgan Section 2 allows Congress to explicitly ban corporations or other associations from spending money to influence elections — but Lord only knows what “influencing elections” actually means. (To give you an idea, a surprising number of states, even with the protections of the current First Amendment, seem to believe it includes saying the name of […]

Filed Under: Amending Press Release/In the News/Blog, Communications, In the News, Newsroom, Published Articles

Washington Examiner: A funny thing happened to Ohio on the way to judicial review (In the News)

CCP Staff Attorney Zac Morgan writes for the Washington Examiner: The First Amendment harm of allowing a state agency to pick and choose which speakers may talk and which speakers ought to be punished is obvious. A straight challenge to the law would likely be quite successful. But SBA List is not such a challenge. Rather, it is about […]

Filed Under: In the News, Published Articles

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