Daily Media Links 5/11

May 11, 2022   •  By Tiffany Donnelly   •  
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Washington Post: Protesting at justices’ homes is illegal. What is Biden doing about it?

By Marc A. Thiessen

When the National School Boards Association wrote to President Biden complaining about angry parents showing up at school board meetings, Garland immediately issued a memorandum to the director of the FBI ordering him to “convene meetings … in each federal judicial district” to discuss “strategies for addressing threats” made by parents. The Justice Department further announced Garland would form “a task force, consisting of representatives from the department’s … National Security Division” — created by the Patriot Act to investigate terrorists — to “determine how federal enforcement tools can be used to prosecute these crimes.”

Garland declared at the time, “Threats against public servants are not only illegal, they run counter to our nation’s core values.” I’m sorry, are Supreme Court justices not public servants? Does attempting to intimidate them not run counter to our nation’s core values?


Politico (“Congress Minutes”): Senate Democrats are largely not objecting to the protests that have taken place outside the homes of Supreme Court justices.

In the aftermath of three protests at the private residences of Supreme Court justices in recent days, we surveyed the Democratic conference to see if they’re comfortable with the strategy. Very few of them voiced outright opposition to it.

Here’s a sample of what they said:

Breitbart: Exclusive: Rep. Jim Banks Tells Pentagon to Preserve Documents on ‘Un-American’ NewsGuard Contract

By Allum Bokhari

Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN), a member of the House Armed Services Committee and chairman of the influential Republican Study Committee, has written a letter to the head of U.S. Cyber Command, giving notice that it should preserve documents related to the Department of Defense’s decision to award a $750,000 contract to NewsGuard.

Breitbart News reported on the NewsGuard contract at the end of April, which was awarded to the partisan establishment organization’s “misinformation fingerprints” project, described as a “catalog of known hoaxes, falsehoods and misinformation narratives that are spreading online.”

In a letter to Gen. Paul M. Nakasone, commander of U.S. Cyber Command, Rep. Banks said the Pentagon’s contract amounted to using taxpayer money to suppress political speech, calling it “un-American” and an “abuse of taxpayer dollars.” …

The full letter follows:

The Courts

Protocol: A judge was sure Twitter isn’t a website. Now tech law could get messy.

By Ben Brody

A panel of three federal appeals court judges on Monday seemed to struggle with basic tech concepts, and the result could signal an unexpected victory for conservative critics of the legal approach underpinning modern social media.

The judges presiding over the hearing in a New Orleans courtroom were weighing whether to clear the way for a Texas law that was designed to punish social media services for alleged anti-conservative bias.

Reason (Volokh Conspiracy): Sen. Warren’s Asking Amazon to Stop Carrying Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s COVID Book Likely Not Unconstitutional

By Eugene Volokh

From Judge Barbara Rothstein’s opinion yesterday in Kennedy v. Warren (W.D. Wash.), which strikes me as consistent with the precedents:

Free Expression

The Atlantic: The ACLU Has Lost Its Way

By Lara Bazelon

The heart of Depp’s claim is that Heard ruined his acting career when she published a 2018 op-ed in The Washington Post describing herself as “a public figure representing domestic abuse”—a thinly veiled reference to much-publicized accusations of assault she made against Depp in court filings toward the end of their short-lived marriage. But Heard hadn’t pitched the idea to the Post—the ACLU had. Terence Dougherty, the organization’s general counsel, testified via video deposition that the ACLU had spearheaded the effort and served as Heard’s ghostwriter in exchange for her promise to donate $3.5 million to the organization. The promised donation also bought Heard the title of ACLU “ambassador on women’s rights with a focus on gender-based violence.” …

The ACLU’s bestowal of an ambassadorship and scribe-for-hire services upon a scandal-plagued actor willing to pay seven figures to transform herself into a victims’ advocate and advance her acting career—Heard pushed for a publication date that coincided with the release of her film Aquaman—is part of the group’s continuing decline. Once a bastion of free speech and high-minded ideals, the ACLU has become in many respects a caricature of its former self.

Over the organization’s 100-year history, the ACLU’s unique value has been its apolitical willingness to stand up for all speech, regardless of the speaker’s identity, and to stand up for those accused, no matter what the accusation.

Axios: Scoop: GOP heavyweights launch “anti-woke” lobbying group

By Lachlan Markay

A new business lobby backed by Republican heavyweights is looking to build clout with GOP leaders amid high-profile splits between the party’s policymakers and key segments of corporate America, Axios has learned.

The American Free Enterprise Chamber of Commerce is positioning itself as an alternative to groups such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The new group’s backers complain the Chamber has lurched left from its onetime post at the vanguard of a Republican-aligned political apparatus…

The new chamber’s formation comes as corporate America grapples with increasing pressure to engage on issues such as voting rights, racial justice and abortion — and the potential political fallout from doing so…

In a memo pitching the group to potential members, a copy of which was obtained by Axios, the AmFree Chamber offers “tools for American businesses to maintain access to the marketplace in the face of ‘woke capital’ and ‘cancel-culture’ threats,” among other benefits.

Online Speech Platforms

New York Times: Elon Musk says he would ‘reverse the permanent ban’ of Donald Trump on Twitter.

By Mike Isaac

Elon Musk said on Tuesday that he would “reverse the permanent ban” of former President Donald J. Trump on Twitter and let him back on the social network, in one of the first specific comments by Mr. Musk, the world’s richest man, of how he would change the social media service.

ACLU: ACLU Comment On Elon Musk Stating He Will Reinstate Trump On Twitter

By Anthony Romero

“You’d be hard-pressed to find a more steadfast opponent of Trump and his policies than the ACLU, but Elon Musk’s decision to re-platform President Trump is the right call. When a handful of individuals possess so much power over the most important forums for political speech, they should exercise that power with restraint. If Trump violates the platform rules again, Twitter should first employ lesser penalties like removing the offending post — rather than banning a political figure.

“Like it or not, President Trump is one of the most important political figures in this country, and the public has a strong interest in hearing his speech. Indeed, some of Trump’s most offensive tweets ended up being critical evidence in lawsuits filed against him and his administration. And we should know — we filed over 400 legal actions against him.”

The States

Willamette Week: City Council Candidate AJ McCreary Paid 15-Year-Old Son $3,200 From Her Campaign Funds

By Sophie Peel

AJ McCreary, a City Council candidate running against incumbent Commissioner Dan Ryan, paid her 15-year-old son $3,200 in campaign funds on May 4 for “management services,” according to a filing with the Oregon secretary of state.

McCreary, a first-time candidate who runs the Equitable Giving Circle, a Portland nonprofit, is participating in the city’s small donor elections program, which was designed to get big money out of city races. Using taxpayer money, the city matches donations for qualifying candidates at a 6-to-1 ratio, meaning that a $10 contribution turns into a $70 contribution. Individual contributions are capped at $250.

Candidates paying relatives for services is not prohibited by campaign finance law in Oregon. But a candidate paying her child, and especially one who is 15 years old, raises questions about the appropriate use of taxpayer dollars…

This isn’t the first instance of a City Hall candidate paying her child. In 2006, City Council candidate Emilie Boyles single-handedly discredited Portland’s first foray into publicly financed elections. Among her offenses: paying her 16-year-old daughter $15,000 for Internet marketing.

Tiffany Donnelly

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