Daily Media Links 4/1

April 1, 2021   •  By Tiffany Donnelly   •  
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In the News

New Civil Liberties Alliance: NCLA Satirical Tweet Case Against NLRB Garners Strong Amicus Support over Free Speech Concerns

Liberty-minded organizations [and] distinguished civil liberties activists…are among the amici curiae who have filed briefs in support of the arguments presented by the New Civil Liberties Alliance…in the satirical tweet case, FDRLST Media v. NLRB.

NCLA’s appellate brief asks the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit to reverse the flawed ruling of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) from last November, which concluded that Mr. Domenech’s satirical tweet from his personal account constituted an unfair labor practice by his employer…

Eighteen amici curiae filed six amicus briefs in support of FDRLST Media and against NLRB’s deeply flawed power grab. Cato Institute, Reason Foundation, Individual Rights Foundation, DKT Liberty Project, Nadine Strossen, P.J. O’Rourke, Clay Calvert, Robert Corn-Revere, Michael James Barton, and entertainers Penn & Teller filed jointly; separate amicus briefs were presented by TechFreedom, Southeastern Legal Foundation and two of six FDRLST employees (Emily Jashinsky and Madeline Osburn), the Institute for Free Speech, Pacific Legal Foundation, and the National Federation of Independent Business.

Bridging the political divide, the amici curiae briefs contend that individuals have the right to speak freely and satirically to express their personal views under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

Congress

Stand Together: Undermining Free Speech Won’t Save Democracy

By Sarah Ruger

H.R. 1… is misleadingly framed by supporters as a defense of democracy, specifically voting rights. Stand Together strongly supports voting rights. But a large part of H.R. 1 would, in effect, disenfranchise people by subjecting them to intimidation and violence if they chose to speak out on causes they’re passionate about. 

Far from being a bill that raises the voiceless, H.R. 1 would help those already in power to stay in power. By undermining free speech, it would endanger the democracy it purports to save. 

Given the high stakes, Stand Together recently conducted opinion research to understand Americans’ concerns. We found that 60 percent of people know little or nothing about the bill. When it is simplistically characterized as protecting voting rights, the bill enjoys broad support. But when the threat to free speech becomes apparent, support for H.R. 1 plummets. 

The bill’s threat to free speech is most clear in its severe restrictions of anonymous speech rights and the vital privacy those rights enable. It would force groups that don’t participate in elections to publish the personal information of their supporters, if the groups praise or criticize a public official—whether for their votes or views. 

As the Supreme Court has recognized since the 1950s in NAACP v. Alabama, compelling a group to disclose its list of supporters opens the door to political intimidation and the silencing of millions of Americans.

With this information public, politicians could use their considerable power to punish those who oppose them or their policies.

New York Times: Here’s How Democrats’ Sweeping Voting Rights Law Would Work

By Michael Wines

[H.R. 1] tries to stop the flow of money to campaigns from abroad by requiring political committees to report foreign contacts, outlawing the use of shell companies to launder foreign contributions and barring foreigners from advising PACs on contributions and other political efforts. These moves and other requirements are direct responses to Russian efforts to support Donald J. Trump in the 2016 presidential campaign.

The most contentious provisions would pull back the veil over so-called dark political money, whose donors are secret, and regulate independent political expenditures — mostly spending that is not expressly coordinated with a candidate — by corporations.

Those provisions would counter the Supreme Court’s 2010 decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission that independent expenditures are a form of free speech protected by the Constitution. The ruling effectively allowed nonprofit groups to spend unlimited amounts of money — $750 million in 2020, according to the advocacy group OpenSecrets — to support or oppose candidates or causes while keeping donors anonymous…

The bill would also require nonprofit groups spending money on elections or judicial nominations to disclose the donor of any contribution over $10,000 and ban shifting money between groups to disguise a donor’s identity.

It would also address the growing use of political advertising on the internet, requiring for the first time that ads disclose their sponsors and that online companies keep a public list of political advertising buyers.

Breitbart: Rep. Michael Waltz: H.R. 1 Would Give AOC $600 from Taxpayers for Every $100 Donated by a Leftist

By Robert Kraychik

Rep. Michael Waltz (R-FL) told Breitbart News on Wednesday that Democrats’ H.R. 1, if enacted into law, would provide a six-to-one taxpayer-funded match for campaign donations valued at $200 or less.

“H.R. 1 [would provide] six-to-one taxpayer-funded campaign matching moneys into the system,” Waltz said on SiriusXM’s Breitbart News Daily with special guest host Jerome Hudson… “So for every progressive that gives AOC a $100, your tax dollars will then give her $600.”

Pirate Wires: Jack be nimble, Jack be quick

By Mike Solana

Last week, Mark Zuckerberg, Sundar Pichai, and Jack Dorsey were once again dragged before Congress to be told by a handful of career politicians “we honestly just don’t like you.” The purpose of this most recent hearing was ostensibly to understand disinformation, but really it was called to provide an opportunity for politicians to performatively batter a few popular ‘Big Tech’ bogeymen, and to grandstand. Still, despite the best efforts of Congress, we did learn a couple of important things. In the first place, many of our political representatives are quite serious about drafting what sounds like extremely unconstitutional disinformation policy. In the second, Jack Dorsey is now publicly-committed to defending the open internet from both his own company, and the government. Is this all an act? I can’t see why. Under the microscope of an increasingly-hostile state there’s no reason an entirely self-interested CEO would tell Congress he believes it should be less powerful. To me, it really does seem Dorsey is committed to building his way out of the censorship problem with tools like Bluesky, a decentralized social media protocol. If true, he would make many enemies both in government and the more authoritarian corners of the press, and we would of course be forced to stan (cautiously).

Today, a recap of the hearing. Full video here:

The Courts

Courthouse News: Two Officers Take Trump to Court Over Capitol Riot

By Brad Kutner

Two Capitol Police officers are asking a federal judge to hold former President Donald Trump responsible for injuries they sustained during the Jan. 6 riot.

While the evidence detailed in the complaint filed late Tuesday in Washington federal court paints a sordid picture of a desperate leader using lies to sway his base, the U.S. Constitution could be Trump’s saving grace. 

Donor Privacy

Philanthropy Roundtable: Anonymous Gifts Powered the Fight for the Women’s Vote

By Patrice Onwuka

Women enjoy the same rights men do today, but it has been a century-long fight led by courageous women who broke societal rules (and even the law) to ensure women could fully exercise constitutional rights and freedoms…

Many wives of business tycoons who bankrolled the suffrage movement did so publicly, but there are others who chose to keep their gifts quiet. Not surprising because suffragists faced significant opposition…

Donor anonymity played a role in supporting the suffrage movement as it did with other unpopular political causes that advanced the ball of equality in America, like the civil rights movement and the gay rights movement. Without the ability to give privately, it’s possible these causes may not have had the resources to be effective or even exist. 

Online Speech Platforms

Jonathan Turley: He Who Must Not Be Heard: Facebook Removes Trump Interview By Lara Trump For Including The “Voice Of Donald Trump”

Facebook has removed a video of an interview by Lara Trump of her father-in-law and former president. The company declared that it would censor any content “in the voice of Donald Trump.” It appears that Trump has achieved Voldemort status on social media and is now “he who must not be heard.”

According to news reports, Trump officials were sent an email from a Facebook employee, warning that any content posted on Facebook and Instagram “in the voice of President Trump is not currently allowed on our platforms (including new posts with President Trump speaking).”

The otherwise cheerful note started with “Hi folks” and then stated “In line with the block we placed on Donald Trump’s Facebook and Instagram accounts, further content posted in the voice of Donald Trump will be removed and result in additional limitations on the accounts.”

The move is an obvious attack on free speech, including political speech.

As we have previously discussed, Democrats have abandoned long-held free speech values in favor of corporate censorship…What discomforts many Democratic members is the ability of people to speak freely on these platforms and spread what they view as “disinformation.”

NiemanLab: We need to know more about political ads. But can transparency be a trap?

By Madelyn Webb and Bethan John

As misinformation researchers, we spend a lot of time thinking about online advertising. We dig through ad libraries, monitor platforms’ announcements, and publish investigations into how disinformation agents are bending the rules.

We rely on social media platforms to give us information to do this. But the experience of working within platforms’ parameters has left us with a question: Can transparency be a trap?

In 2017, Facebook announced it was building a searchable archive of U.S. federal election–related ads that would include some spending and targeting data. Various iterations culminated in the Ad Library, which set the standard for ad transparency. Later, Google also began sharing some information about political ads with researchers. Snapchat did the same, and Twitter eventually opted to get rid of political advertising altogether.

By setting policy on it, social platforms have demonstrated they know transparency matters when it comes to political advertising. But they’re also able to control the terms of that transparency. Here are eight big questions that arose when we began scrutinizing the current landscape for advertising transparency.

Newsweek: Why Big Tech Censored Our Podcast Touching on 2020 Election Irregularities

By Ben Weingarten

Amid congressional Democrats’ push—via the dishonestly named “For the People Act”—to make universal and permanent the extraordinary election integrity-threatening measures of the 2020 election, while hypocritically unseating Republican Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks (IA-2) after her duly certified November victory, their Big Tech adjuncts continue censoring speech that runs afoul of that election’s Official Narrative.

My colleagues at the Claremont Institute’s The American Mind publication found this out when they tried to publish a podcast on YouTube that my company helped script and produce—only for the Google-owned video platform to remove it outright.

Ironically, or perhaps not, the mini-audio documentary, titled “The Ruling Class Strikes Back,” chronicled the myriad ways in which our political establishment—and its sundry allies in Big Tech, woke capital, the corporate media and across the other commanding heights of society—worked relentlessly during the 2020 election to marginalize, silence and rout dissenters from their progressive orthodoxy.

Their tactics, of course, included suppressing news, information and opinion frowned upon by the Ruling Class.

The States

WBOC: Maryland Bill Would Ban Hate Symbols In Public Schools

By Tom Hindle

[A] bill in the Maryland state Legislature is aiming to ban the display of symbols of hate in public schools effective July 1.

“Allowing students or others to wear or display these symbols on school property or at school sponsored events, is both offensive, and is disruptive to the learning environment,” Del. Michele Guyton, D-Baltimore County, told a committee on Feb. 5. 

The law, filed as HB0418, would institute a statewide order disallowing any symbols of hate including, but not limited to: swastikas, Confederate flags and nooses – though they can be displayed in classroom settings.

Guyton, the bill’s sponsor, said it’s a timely and necessary measure, especially in light of the emergence of the Black Lives Matter movement to the forefront of the national conversation.

“If we can’t do it this year, I don’t know when we can,” Guyton told Capital News Service…

The bill names swastikas, Confederate flags and nooses in its text, but leaves it to individual school districts to identify other symbols to prohibit. 

Specifically, jurisdictions are allowed to ban the display of any symbol, image, or object that “may be reasonably forecast to cause a disruption.” 

Texas Tribune: Texas Senate approves bill to stop social media companies from banning Texans for political views

By Shawn Mulcahy

The Texas Senate early Thursday approved a bill that would prohibit social media companies with at least 100 million monthly users from blocking, banning, demonetizing or discriminating against a user based on their viewpoint or their location within Texas.

Senate Bill 12, sponsored by Republican state Sen. Bryan Hughes of Mineola, was approved after 2 a.m. Thursday. The measure, which would apply to Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, among others, would also require the companies to disclose their content moderation policies, publish regular reports about the content they remove and create an appeals process for user content that has been taken down.

The Texas attorney general would be allowed to file suit against any company that violates a provision of the bill. If upheld in court, the attorney general could recoup “reasonable” attorney’s fees and investigative costs.

Experts have raised doubts about the legality of the measure. Hughes acknowledged that, if signed into law, SB 12 would almost certainly be challenged in court. He repeatedly referred to social media platforms as common carriers, though they have never been classified as such by law or in the court system.

 

Tiffany Donnelly

Tiffany Donnelly

https://www.ifs.org/author/tdonnelly/

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