Daily Media Links 1/12

January 12, 2022   •  By Tiffany Donnelly   •  
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We’re Hiring!

Senior Attorney – Institute for Free Speech – Washington, DC or Virtual Office

The Institute for Free Speech is hiring a Senior Attorney with a minimum of seven years of experience.

This is a rare opportunity to work with a growing team to litigate a long-term legal strategy directed toward the protection of Constitutional rights. We challenge laws, practices, and policies that infringe upon First Amendment freedoms, such as speech codes that censor parents at school board meetings, laws restricting people’s ability to give and receive campaign contributions, and any intrusion into people’s private political associations. You would work to hold censors accountable; and to secure legal precedents clearing away a thicket of laws, regulations, and practices that suppress speech about government and candidates for political office, threaten citizens’ privacy if they speak or join groups, and impose heavy burdens on political activity.

A preference will be given to candidates who can work in our Washington, D.C. headquarters. However, we will consider strong candidates living and working virtually from anywhere in the country. In addition to litigation or advocacy-related travel, a virtual candidate would be required to travel for quarterly week-long visits to IFS’s headquarters after the pandemic’s impact has receded.

[You can learn more about this role and apply for the position here.]

Biden Administration

Politico: ‘I’m tired of being quiet’: Biden and Harris make forceful push for voting rights

By Myah Ward

The president called on the GOP to join Democrats in supporting the voting and elections reform bills, reminding Republicans that reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act has historically been done through bipartisan agreement. “I’ve been having these quiet conversations with members of Congress for the last two months,” the president said. “I’m tired of being quiet.”

Tuesday’s speeches from Biden and Harris are timed up with Senate Democrats’ moves on Capitol Hill, as Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is expected to force another vote on an elections reform bill as soon as this week. Schumer has repeatedly said that if Republicans block the bill, as expected, he will launch a movement to change the filibuster rules by Jan. 17, Martin Luther King Jr. Day…

[Biden] said he supports changing Senate rules, describing the filibuster as “weaponized” and “abused.”


Politico: Dems’ filibuster conundrum: It’s not just Manchin and Sinema

By Burgess Everett and Marianne Levine

A Democratic senator from Arizona is still not sold on changes to the filibuster. And it’s not Kyrsten Sinema.

Mark Kelly is not yet committed to a change in the Senate rules that would allow elections reform legislation to pass by a simple majority. A centrist who is up for reelection in November, Kelly said Monday he is still undecided just days before he may have to vote on proposals to weaken the filibuster.


CNN: Justice Department forms new domestic terrorism unit

By Jessica Scheider

The Justice Department is establishing a new domestic terrorism unit to combat the threat that has more than doubled in the past two years, the head of the agency’s National Security Division said Tuesday.

Free Speech

Inside Higher Ed: The Inevitable Problem of Self-Censorship

By John K. Wilson

Self-censorship, we are regularly told, is a great evil afflicting our colleges and our society. Multiple surveys show that a majority of college students self-censor, and these surveys are often cited to prove a crisis in campus free speech…

If by self-censorship we mean that someone ever feels reluctant to speak, then self-censorship is an inevitable condition in any free society, and in any free university. The surveys revealing self-censorship among students provide no definitive evidence of repression—in fact, they may actually show strong levels of free speech and diversity on campuses.

Online Speech Platforms

Fox News: Twitter won’t ban Justice Sotomayor’s false statement—that’s a good thing

By Jonathan Turley

During the oral arguments over the Biden vaccine mandates last week, two largely disconnected views emerged from the right and left of the Supreme Court… 

That led Justice Sonia Sotomayor to make a claim about children with COVID that even the Washington Post called “absurdly high” and worthy of “four Pinocchios.

The incident raised a sensitive issue for some of us who oppose the massive censorship programs on Twitter and other social media platforms. Justice Sotomayor was spreading “disinformation” on COVID-19, so could she be barred from Twitter? As you might expect the answer is no, but that is precisely the problem with the corporate censorship embraced by many today…

My point is not that Sotomayor should be banned from social media, but that this controversy shows why censorship is both unnecessary and biased. Free speech has its own corrective element. Indeed, Sotomayor’s statement was quickly corrected by critics.

Wall Street Journal: Facebook’s Former Elections Boss Now Questions Social Media’s Impact on Politics

By Jeff Horwitz

Katie Harbath joined Facebook more than a decade ago as the first Republican employee in the company’s Washington, D.C., office, pushing skeptical members of Congress on the virtues of the young social network for healthy elections.

Now she is pitching a different message. After rising to become Facebook’s public-policy director for global elections, Ms. Harbath left the company last year and teamed with a group now advising lawmakers in Washington and Europe on legislation advocating more guardrails around social media.

In her role at Facebook, now Meta Platforms Inc., Ms. Harbath had been the face of the company on many political issues and a liaison with governments and parties around the world. She says that when she resigned in March, she had come to believe that unless there is urgent intervention from governments and tech platforms, social media will likely incubate future political violence like that of the Capitol riot on Jan. 6, 2021.

“I still believe social media has done more good than harm in politics, but it’s close,” she says. “Maybe it’s 52-48—and trending south.”

The States

Miami Herald: Dark money group seeks to block disclosure of donor names in ghost candidate probe

By Ana Ceballos and Samantha J. Gross

Lawyers for a dark money group run by a prominent Republican operative asked a Miami circuit court judge Monday to block the release of bank records that would disclose its donors, arguing that the release of such information would violate donors’ constitutional rights and could ‘chill speech across the political spectrum.’ In a 12-page motion, lawyers for Let’s Preserve the American Dream, a Tallahassee-based nonprofit organization run by Ryan Tyson, argued that the bank records must remain secret because they contain privileged information protected by the First Amendment and Florida’s criminal procedure rules.

Tiffany Donnelly

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