New from the Institute for Free Speech
By Nathan Maxwell
The esteemed executives enshrined on Mount Rushmore are keeping watch over a more speech-friendly state following our challenge to South Dakota’s unconstitutional restrictions on capitol gatherings in Blue State Refugees v. Noem. Demonstrators can now gather on State Capitol grounds year-round, and the state must pay attorney fees for interfering with this fundamental right.
When Blue State Refugees (BSR) sought to gather during special legislative sessions in November, the state rejected their request, claiming the entire 200-acre grounds were off limits for nearly two months while the Capitol was decorated for Christmas.
This sweeping restriction on gatherings and protests prevented speech at a critical moment.
Washington Post: Judge denies Abrams bid to seek unlimited contributions
By Kate Brumback, AP
Georgia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams cannot immediately begin raising and spending unlimited campaign contributions under a state law passed last year because she is not yet her party’s nominee, a federal judge ruled Thursday.
Abrams and her One Georgia committee filed a lawsuit last month challenging the constitutionality of the new law, which allows certain top elected officials and party nominees to create “leadership committees” that can raise campaign funds without limits. But they also asked the judge to order the state ethics commission not to take any action against them if they continue to raise money before the primary next month.
“This Court will not rewrite Georgia law to enable One Georgia to stand in the same shoes as a leadership committee that, in Plaintiffs’ view, is operating in violation of the First Amendment,” U.S. District Judge Mark Cohen wrote in his order.
Online Speech Platforms
By Tim Hains
Elon Musk spoke Thursday at TED2022, where he was of course asked about his bid to buy Twitter. He said he will define free speech based on: “Is someone you don’t like allowed to say something you don’t like?”
“I think it is very important that this be an inclusive arena for free speech,” Musk said. “Twitter has become the town square. It is really important that people have the reality and the perception that they are able to speak freely, within the bounds of the law. One thing I believe Twitter should do is open-source the algorithm.” …
“This is not a way to make money,” he said. “My strong intuitive sense is that having a public platform that is maximally trusted and broadly inclusive is extremely important to the future of civilization. I don’t care about the economics at all.”
Watch the full event below:
TK News by Matt Taibbi: Twitter’s Chickens Come Home to Roost
Elon Musk has reportedly attempted to purchase Twitter, and I have no idea whether his influence on the company would be positive or not.
I do know, however, what other media figures think Musk’s influence on Twitter will be. They think it will be bad — very bad, bad! How none of them see what a self-own this is is beyond me. After spending the last six years practically turgid with joy as other unaccountable billionaires tweaked the speech landscape in their favor, they’re suddenly howling over the mere rumor that a less censorious fat cat might get to sit in one of the big chairs. O the inhumanity!
A few of the more prominent Musk critics are claiming merely to be upset at the prospect of wealthy individuals controlling speech. As more than one person has pointed out, this is a bizarre thing to be worrying about all of the sudden, since it’s been the absolute reality in America for a while.
National Review: Musk Takeover Bid Terrifies the Pro-Censorship Blue Checks
By David Harsanyi
In an unpublished introduction to his greatest work, Animal Farm, Orwell argued that the oppressive cultural environment that inhibits discourse is just corrosive to freedom as state censorship. “The chief danger to freedom of thought and speech,” he wrote, is self-censorship, not because people are “frightened of prosecution but because they are frightened of public opinion.”
The progressives who are having a tantrum over Musk’s bid (and I’m skeptical much will change on social media, since it’s run and staffed by the same kinds of people, no matter who owns it) aren’t primarily anxious about the potential uptick in violent threats or doxing. They are “frightened” of stories that undercut their power.
By Ryland Barton and Ryan Van Velzer
Anti-SLAPP bill: After stalling in the legislature for more than a month, lawmakers revived House Bill 222, a bipartisan effort that gives judges more discretion to dismiss frivolous lawsuits that limit critics’ free speech. Supporters of the bill say the legal challenges, dubbed “Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation,” are often filed by wealthy businesses or individuals to intimidate critics.
By Adam Friedman
Tennessee lawmakers are poised to pass an ethics and campaign finance reform bill, despite strong opposition from dark-money organizations.
Nonprofit political spending organizations like Americans for Prosperity, Tennessee Students for Success and Tennessee Stands have decried the bill as government overreach because it will require them to disclose spending around an election.
Under current rules, these groups classified as 501(c)4s, often considered dark-money organizations because they don’t have to disclose donors, can use a candidate’s name and image in advertisements before an election. But as long as they don’t expressly advocate for the candidate, they aren’t required to disclose their campaign spending.
The legislation would require these groups to disclose any expenses over $5,000 in the 60 days leading up to an election when using candidate names and images.
Republican leadership in the Senate and House are sponsoring the bill, a rarity usually reserved for legislation backed by the administration.
In an email to supporters, Tennessee Stands called the bill a “constitutional travesty.”
“Republican leadership is running a bill that would in effect censor small conservative groups across the state 60 days prior to every election,” the organization said. “Are we living in China?”
The Center Square: Ohio bill aimed at protecting free speech for students, professors
By J.D. Davidson
Ohio college students and professors would be able to speak more freely without fear of punishment if a wide-ranging post-secondary education bill passed by the General Assembly gets Gov. Mike DeWine’s signature…
The recently passed legislation, sponsored by Sen. Jerry Cirino, R-Kirtland, would require public colleges and universities to adopt a policy that affirms principals regarding the regulation of free speech and establish a process complaints can be made about an alleged violation by an employee.
“There have been far too many stories in the past several years of students and faculty alike who have been intimidated and, in some instances, punished for something they have written, taught or brought forward,” Cirino testified. “Students should not be afraid to voice a conflicting opinion to their professors in fear of their grade suffering.”