Daily Media Links 10/1

October 1, 2021   •  By Nathan Maxwell   •  
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Supreme Court

New York Times: Supreme Court to Hear Ted Cruz’s Campaign Finance Challenge

By Adam Liptak

The Supreme Court on Thursday agreed to hear a challenge to a federal campaign finance law brought by Senator Ted Cruz, Republican of Texas, and a dispute over whether Boston must allow a private group to raise a flag bearing a cross in front of its City Hall.

The Courts

ABC News: Court orders FEC to rule on complaints against NRA’s alleged campaign coordination scheme

By Soo Rin Kim

A federal court on Thursday ordered the Federal Election Commission to rule on pending complaints that allege the National Rifle Association used shell entities to illegally coordinate campaign spending with federal candidates, including with the 2016 presidential campaign of Donald Trump.


The Hill: King says voting rights bill could be brought to Senate floor next week

By Marty Johnson

Sen. Angus King (I-Maine), a co-sponsor of the Freedom to Vote Act, the pared-down version of the For the People Act, said Thursday that the legislation could be brought to the floor for consideration next week, representing another legislative priority that Democrats have failed to achieve so far this session.

Despite moderate Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) being one of several co-sponsors of the bill, the proposal has a good chance of being stonewalled by a Republican filibuster just like its predecessor.

On a phone call with reporters, King explained that Manchin, who had problems with the scope of the For the People Act but has voiced his support for the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, committed to whipping up GOP support for the bill…

King noted that the Freedom to Vote Act was structured to be a compromise that omitted the most controversial aspects of H.R. 1.

“This isn’t a radical bill,” the senator said.

Fox News: Hawley to introduce legislation holding social media companies accountable for harm they cause children

By Michael Lee

Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley is introducing legislation that would establish a federal tort against social media companies in attempt to hold them accountable if they cause bodily or mental injuries to children.

“Like Big Tobacco before it, Big Tech pushes products it knows are harmful,” a spokesperson for Hawley said in a release explaining the legislation…

The bill seeks to close Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act that currently protects social media companies from lawsuits.

Leadership PACs

Politico: Politico Influence

By Caitlin Oprysko

Members of Congress over the past two years used leadership PACs as “slush funds” to underwrite lavish lifestyles — including millions of dollars spent on stays at luxury resorts, sporting events, concerts and pricey meals at upscale restaurants — according to a new report out today. The report, from campaign finance watchdogs IssueOne and Campaign Legal Center, examined the reported spending patterns of the 92 percent of members of the prior Congress who have leadership PACs, which are subject to less stringent regulations and, unlike typical campaign committees, have no prohibition against putting donors’ money toward personal use, allowing candidates to blur the line between legitimate fundraising and personal spending…

“Leadership PACs represent the worst of pay-to-play political giving,” IssueOne founder and CEO Nick Penniman said in a statement. Adav Noti, senior director for trial litigation and chief of staff at Campaign Legal Center, argued that abusing leadership PACs heightens the risk for corruption. “It raises concerns that wealthy special interests, expecting favors in return, are aiding what is essentially a slush fund that allows an elected official to live a lavish lifestyle,” Noti said.

Free Speech

Wall Street Journal: Free Speech Has Consequences, but Should Firing Be One?

By Ted Rall

Free speech has consequences. What you say can get you praised or ridiculed, embraced or shunned. Sometimes it can change the world. But should it get you fired?

Many Americans say yes. A Cato Institute survey conducted during the 2020 campaign found that 50% of self-identified liberals believed that voting for Donald Trump was grounds for dismissal, while 36% of conservatives thought a vote for Joe Biden was a firing offense. These percentages may increase, since young people agree with this kind of censorship the most…

Since the majority of speech-related firings are executed by private employers, the First Amendment offers no remedy. When citizens must watch what they say off the clock for fear of getting canned, notice—and action—should be taken by a society that values the right to speak one’s mind so greatly that it is enshrined in its Constitution.

What meaningful difference is there between an authoritarian state, where saying the wrong thing can get you arrested, and a regime of economic censorship, in which the consequence of unpopular expression results in unemployment, potentially followed by eviction and destitution?

Candidates and Campaigns

Axios: Celebrity pols propel ad spending

By Lachlan Markay

The rise of celebrity politicians is fueling record ad spending that will likely continue to flood American airwaves through next year’s midterms, industry watchers tell Axios.

Firebrand congressional freshmen and sophomores are raking in grassroots donations — and starring in ads from both allies and opponents alike. It’s part of an explosion in small-dollar fundraising that’s translating into a huge spike in paid political advertising…

Already, political ad spending is 61% higher than it was at this point in 2019, and 214% higher than 2017, AdImpact said in a report released Wednesday.

AdImpact notes substantial fundraising by both parties’ national campaign committees. But it says that spending will be driven in large measure by younger, more ideologically strident officeholders who are raking in huge sums.

“Candidate fundraising is keeping pace with committees, driven in large part by celebrity-esque candidates’ online fundraising prowess,” the report says.

“We found that House members with high profiles like AOC and Marjorie Taylor Greene are raising similar amounts as party leadership heavy-hitters like [Speaker] Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and [House Minority Leader] Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.).”

Online Speech Platforms

Axios: LinkedIn blocks U.S. journalists’ profiles in China

By Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian

LinkedIn blocked the profiles of several U.S. journalists from the company’s China-based platform this week, citing “prohibited content.” My account was one of the profiles affected.

LinkedIn is one of the only large American social media platforms to agree to the Chinese government’s demands to censor content, and is tasking its own employees with restricting what users in China can see.

“If LinkedIn’s behavior is normalized, it sends a message to companies across the globe that it is business as usual to enforce Beijing’s censorship demands globally,” PEN America CEO Suzanne Nossel said in a statement.

“This is a flashing red light that unless big tech firms like LinkedIn — owned by Microsoft — stand up to censorship, free speech worldwide will suffer.”

The States

Reason: ‘Equity,’ ‘Multiculturalism,’ and ‘Racial Prejudice’ Among Concepts That Could Be Banned in Schools by Wisconsin Bill

By Elizabeth Nolan Brown

Equity. Multiculturalism. Patriarchy. Social justice. White supremacy. Uttering any of these words or phrases in a school could land Wisconsinites in trouble, if the state’s Republican-led Assembly gets its way.

On Tuesday, the Assembly passed legislation that Wisconsin Republicans are touting as a ban on teaching “critical race theory.”…

But the bill would actually go further than most, allowing parents to sue “a school district or operator of a charter school for violation of the prohibitions” and, according to co-sponsoring Rep. Chuck Wichgers (R–Muskego), banning nearly 100 words, phrases, and concepts related to culture, race, and sex.

Last month during a joint hearing on education, Wichgers shared a list of terms that could violate A.B. 411 if taught…

The frighteningly broad list includes a plethora of perfectly neutral or basic terms—the kinds of words or phrases used to teach about ideas, not necessarily advocate for any particular ones. Wichgers’ list is also rife with concepts far from the academic or political fringe.

Breitbart: Washington Teacher Ordered to Remove Thin Blue Line Flag from Classroom While School District Encourages LGBTQ, BLM Flags

By Nick Gilbertson

The Marysville school district in Washington state has doubled down on a decision to make an unnamed teacher remove a Thin Blue Line flag from her middle school classroom, but Black lives Matter and LGBTQ flags remain welcome in the school district.

Superintendent Chris Pearson sent a letter to families and staff September 27, stating the teacher breached school policy regarding political speech by hanging the flag from her wall…

Pearson then attempted to justify the district’s decision to allow teachers to hang Black lives Matter and LGBTQ flags:

Nathan Maxwell


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