Daily Media Links 11/9

November 9, 2020   •  By Tiffany Donnelly   •  
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Supreme Court

Bloomberg Law: Justices Won’t Consider Super PAC Contribution Limits

By Kimberly Strawbridge Robinson

The U.S. Supreme Court turned away a campaign finance appeal seeking to rein in Super PACs from current and former members of Congress.

The group, led by Ted Lieu (D-Calif.), asked the court to review a D.C. Circuit ruling invalidating contribution limits for independent-expenditure-only political committees-better known as Super PACs.

The lower court relied on previous circuit rulings and the Supreme Court’s 2010 decision in Citizens United v. FEC.

In Citizens United, the court struck down limits on campaign expenditures. The D.C. Circuit, in SpeechNow.org v. FEC, later said the same reasoning meant limits on contributions must…


Politico: AOC wants to cancel those who worked for Trump. Good luck with that, they say.

By Ryan Lizza, Daniel Lippman, and Meridith McGraw

Over the weekend, people started making lists.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez kicked things off on Friday with a tweet that terrified Trumpworld.

“Is anyone archiving these Trump sycophants for when they try to downplay or deny their complicity in the future?” she wrote. “I foresee decent probability of many deleted Tweets, writings, photos in the future.”

A group calling itself the Trump Accountability Project sprung up to heed AOC’s call.

“Remember what they did,” the group’s sparse website declares. “We should not allow the following groups of people to profit from their experience: Those who elected him. Those who staffed his government. Those who funded him.”

Rarely a healthy sign in any democracy, the enemies lists started to freak out some normally unflappable Trump officials in the White House.

“At first I brushed it off as ridiculous, but what is scary is that she’s serious,” said a White House official of AOC’s tweet. “That is terrifying that a sitting member of Congress is calling for something like that…That type of rhetoric is terrifying when you have 70 million Americans who voted for this president. It might start with Trump officials but what if they go further?” …

“Making a list of your political enemies and promising that they will get payback and people will go after them because they worked for a different political party is literally fascism,” [said a former senior administration official.]

New York Times: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Biden’s Win, House Losses, and What’s Next for the Left

By Astead W. Herndon

[Rep. Ocasio-Cortez:] . . . Our party isn’t even online, not in a real way that exhibits competence. And so, yeah, they were vulnerable to these messages, because they weren’t even on the mediums where these messages were most potent. Sure, you can point to the message, but they were also sitting ducks. They were sitting ducks.

There’s a reason Barack Obama built an entire national campaign apparatus outside of the Democratic National Committee. And there’s a reason that when he didn’t activate or continue that, we lost House majorities. Because the party – in and of itself – does not have the core competencies, and no amount of money is going to fix that.

Breitbart: Nancy Pelosi Vows Congress Will Pass ‘Election Reform’ Bill: Criminalized Political Speech, Pre-Paid Absentee Ballots

By Hannah Bleau

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) outlined a few key objectives Congress will pursue on the “first day” of the 117th Congress, promising to pass H.R.1, an “election reform” bill Republicans warn will enable even greater voter fraud.

In a letter to her colleagues on Friday in which she formally requested their support to reelect her as speaker of the House, Pelosi said…

“Our Democratic House will proudly pass our election reform, anti-corruption, and voting rights legislation by passing H.R.1 on the first day of the new Congress.” …

Democrats tried to advance H.R.1, also known as the “For the People Act,” last year…

A “Memo to the Movement” from the Conservative Action Project highlighted a number of the objectives outlined in the bill, which includes the criminalization of political speech…

H.R. 1 also mandates countless millions of taxpayer dollars be given to candidates for their campaigns, requiring citizens to fund candidates who those citizens actually oppose for office.

Additionally, it… [c]riminalizes political speech that the government deems “discouraging” to voters who are statistically more likely to vote Democrat.

Free Speech

Reason: How To Tell If You’re Being Canceled

By Nick Gillespie

[Jonathan Rauch:] Here’s what I think canceling is and why it’s different from criticism . . . Criticism is expressing an argument or opinion with the idea of rationally influencing public opinion through public persuasion, interpersonal persuasion.

Canceling comes from the universe of propaganda and not critical discourse. It’s about organizing or manipulating a social environment or a media environment with a goal or predictable effect of isolating, deplatforming, or intimidating an ideological opponent. It’s about shaping the battlefield. It’s about making an idea or a person socially radioactive. It is not about criticism. It is not about ideas…

I’m working on this book. I sat down and said, “How do we know if something is canceling vs. ordinary criticism?” I came out with a list of six things, kind of the warning signs of canceling. If you’ve got two or three of these, it’s canceling and not criticism.

Online Speech Platforms

Washington Post: Facebook’s latest attempt to slow disinformation means probation for groups

By Heather Kelly

Facebook has started putting some groups on a type of probation, its latest move to slow the spread of disinformation and attempts to undermine the legitimacy of the U.S. election.

Any group, public or private, the company detects has too many posts that violate its community standards will be forced to have administrators and moderators approve each submission manually. The requirement will stay in place for 60 days for the group, with no way to appeal or override it…

Facebook company spokesperson Leonard Lam said the company was taking the measure “in order to protect people during this unprecedented time.” …

Some of the first groups to be put on Facebook’s watch list were caught off guard. Admins of a popular public group for the city of Aberdeen, Wash., found out they would have to approve each new post, effective immediately, via a Facebook notification. It said all posts “now require approval until Jan. 4.” The group, which mostly discusses local events, business and issues, has more than 7,000 members and a policy against arguing about politics or inciting other members.

“At this point we are wondering if we might close the group,” said Deb Blecha, a local graphic designer who has been an admin on the group for 10 years. “The extra work and the frustration is weighing heavy on us.”

Washington Post: No social media is safe: How election misinformation spread on LinkedIn, Pinterest and Nextdoor

By Cat Zakrzewski and Rachel Lerman

Pinterest, LinkedIn and other smaller social media sites have again been forced into the war against misinformation this election cycle, showing the challenges of policing the spread of lies online…

The smaller platforms have fewer people to respond to the fake claims, but in some instances they are taking much more expansive steps to stop falsehoods about the election from gaining traction on their platforms.

In Pinterest’s case, the company removed posts about stolen ballots that violated its policies. It is now preventing searches of controversial topics that are more likely to turn up election misinformation, like “stolen ballots.” The company also cracked down on phrases that are gaining traction about conspiracy theories, such as “Sharpiegate,” a false claim that votes were eliminated in Arizona because people used Sharpie pens to mark them.

“One of the ways they’re cutting the corner on the fact that they have less resources for doing the moderation is they’re just straight up blocking some of these terms and hashtags, which works better,” said Alex Stamos, the former chief security officer of Facebook and the director of the Stanford Internet Observatory. He’s part of a coalition of researchers studying electoral integrity, which flagged the problems to Pinterest. “It’s much easier to just block Sharpiegate than to try to wade through misinformation and what isn’t. You can still enjoy your handmade tea cozy pictures without having your Sharpiegate content.”

Protocol: Don’t declare premature victory on Big Tech’s election work just yet

By Issie Lapowsky

The question of what [social media platforms should do] with repeat offenders is particularly fraught when it comes to elected officials, like newly elected congresswoman and QAnon supporter Marjorie Taylor Greene, whose unsubstantiated tweets about the election being stolen were repeatedly masked under warning labels this week. And yet, she shows no signs of stopping. “These platforms have to consider permanently removing U.S. officials from platforms if they use them so destructively,” [Emerson Brooking, a resident Fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab] said. “That will be a big challenge in the weeks ahead.”

Candidates and Campaigns

Business Insider: Legal problems galore await Donald Trump if he loses reelection and his presidential immunity

By Dave Levinthal

Former Department of Justice and Federal Election Commission officials, as well as other legal scholars, tell Insider that Trump’s post-presidency legal issues could last years…

The most notable Trump campaign money drama of the moment is a doozy. It involves a complaint this summer by the nonpartisan Campaign Legal Center that alleges the Trump campaign “disguised” nearly $170 million worth of campaign spending “by laundering the funds” through companies led by former campaign manager Brad Parscale or created by Trump campaign lawyers. The Trump campaign denies it’s done anything wrong.

But it’s not the only one: Several other Trump campaign-related money complaints are currently pending before federal investigators. They include accusations of illegal solicitation of a foreign national by Donald Trump Jr. and failure to publicly disclose campaign debts stemming from municipal police bills the Trump campaign refuses to pay.

“It would be safe to assume that the Trump campaign and its joint fundraising committees will be dealing with criminal and FEC investigations for years to come – beyond the four years Trump would have served if he had been reelected.” said Brett Kappel, an election and government ethics attorney at the Harmon, Curran, Spielberg & Eisenberg LLP law firm.

Wall Street Journal: Trump Fundraising for Legal Challenges Would Also Pay Down Debt

By Julie Bykowicz

President Trump is racing to raise money for an “official election defense fund.” But the fine print on the solicitations tells a different story: Half — or more — of any contribution will be used to retire debt from his re-election campaign.

Reuters: For Senate Democrats, campaign money couldn’t buy happiness

By David Morgan

Democratic candidates raised a whopping $626 million in 14 highly competitive races, vastly overshadowing Republican collections of $386 million in the same contests, according to FEC filings.

Aside from the surge of Republican voters, strategists and political analysts suspect Democratic spending may have reached the point of diminishing return, while aiding Republican claims that some races were being distorted by outside money.

A Republican strategist involved in several key races said the scale and out-of-state nature of Democratic fundraising through the ActBlue platform also helped Republicans drive home claims that Democratic candidates were in league with national political figures, namely Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi…

[Maine Senator Susan] Collins raised $24.2 million for an election that many had expected her to lose against Democrat Sara Gideon, the speaker of the Maine House of Representatives. Gideon raised nearly $70 million but lost by almost 9 points after leading Collins in opinion polls since July.

“The decisive victory for Senator Collins proved that the state of Maine is not for sale,” said Collins campaign spokeswoman Annie Clark.

The States

Fulcrum: Oregonians vote to end their era of free-flowing money in politics

By Sara Swann

Tuesday’s election yielded two wins and one probable loss for those who say that curbing the influence of money in politics is key to a better democracy.

By far the most significant victory for that cause was in Oregon, which voted overwhelmingly to allow the state to limit campaign contributions and spending – and reverse some of the nation’s most permissive campaign financing rules. And a couple of symbolic new limits were approved Tuesday in Missouri. But a package including new curbs on gifts to campaigns was facing rejection in Alaska…

Here are the details on the three measures on the ballot this week:

Reason (Volokh Conspiracy): I ❤ ISIS/Bin Laden + Confederate Flag + “Black [& Indian] Lives Don’t Matter”

By Eugene Volokh

From People v. Peterson, decided last week by the Michigan Court of Appeals (Judges Patrick M. Meter, Douglas B. Shapiro, and Michael J. Riordan)…

MCL 750.170 provides: “Any person who shall make or excite any disturbance or contention in any [public place] … shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.” …

[A] threat to kill a member of the public and shoot up a courthouse is [not] protected [by the First Amendment]…. [But] some of the statements used to convict [defendant] were constitutionally protected speech. Most significantly, defendant’s unpopular political statements outside of the courtroom expressing his admiration of ISIS and Osama bin Laden constitute protected speech. Also, there was no evidence that his statements regarding ISIS and bin Laden, if heard by anyone other than the court patron who reported it to security, “[made] or excit[ed] any disturbance.”

Similarly, the prosecutor questioned defendant about his recent protest outside of a courthouse that involved waving the Confederate flag and displaying signs reading “Black Lives Don’t Matter” and “Indian Lives Don’t Matter.” Aside from having no relevance to whether defendant disturbed the peace on April 12, 2017, and being highly prejudicial, this conduct also involved protected speech and cannot serve as the basis of a disturbance under…

Tiffany Donnelly

Tiffany Donnelly


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