Daily Media Links 6/14

June 14, 2021   •  By Tiffany Donnelly   •  
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Congress

Politico: Pelosi says she’s not giving up on Manchin and election reform

By Olivia Reingold

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Sunday that she’s not giving up on Sen. Joe Manchin, who is opposing the sweeping House Democratic election reform bill. 

“I don’t give up on Joe Manchin,” the California Democrat said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “As I said to him, ‘I read the op-ed. You left the door open, and we’re going to go right in.’” …

Regardless of where Manchin stands on the marquee bill, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said last week he plans to hold a vote later this month. But he acknowledged he might be open to tweaking the bill, based on Manchin’s position. 

“Now, is it possible we might change a few things here and there? We’re gonna do it,” Schumer said. “We had discussions with Sen. Manchin and they’re continuing.”

The Hill: Democrats mull overhaul of sweeping election bill

By Jordain Carney

Democrats are opening the door to revamping a sweeping election reform bill, considered a top priority for the party’s base, as they try to shore up support within their own ranks…

Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) added that Rules Committee Chairwoman Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) has been in charge of fielding requests for changes, noting that “a lot of Dems have had concerns.” 

“She’s been working with Merkley trying to fix them all,” Kaine said, referring to Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), who spearheaded the bill…

Democratic leadership and key senators say they are open to making changes ahead of the vote. 

“We will vote on voting rights legislation, bold legislation, S. 1 in the last week in June,” Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) told reporters, adding that Democrats could “change a few things here and there.” …

Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) floated that she could be open to picking out specific pieces of the For the People Act, including focusing on tightening rules around “dark money,” spending where the source isn’t disclosed.

FEC

Washington Examiner: FEC GOP targets Democrat’s ‘zombie’ blockade

By Paul Bedard

Republicans on the evenly split Federal Election Commission are pushing for new transparency rules hoping to put a spotlight on Democratic stalling tactics.

The effort targets a power play by Democratic Commissioner Ellen Weintraub, whose six-year term ended in 2008 but was never replaced. She is behind a new trend at the agency to keep open enforcement cases that Republicans vote against in 3-3 ties and then block the FEC from defending itself when the cases go to court for resolution…

By not closing enforcement cases that are essentially dead in a 3-3 tie, those involved can go to court and claim the agency isn’t doing its job. By not defending itself and revealing actions taken in cases, judges are left in the dark on how to rule.

Republican Commissioner Sean Cooksey called those cases “zombie matters” and said they have increased 225% in the last year, from four to 13.

“This practice has several harmful and predictable consequences,” he said in a proposal to require that the agency start revealing which cases are zombies and the actions taken on them.

“By failing to disclose our adjudication, the Commission is left vulnerable to a lawsuit under 52 U.S.C. § 30109(a)(8), whereby complainants (often ideologically driven organizations) can attempt to bypass our agency and pursue enforcement and regulatory changes through litigation. If the Commission does not appear in court to defend itself in a lawsuit — a scandalous and largely unheard-of behavior — the reviewing court is left ignorant of the Commission’s action and views, and the Commission is subject to a default judgment. Meanwhile, respondents are left to their own devices to intervene and defend their positions in court,” he added.

The Courts

Tallahassee Democrat: We’re suing the state of Florida over new social media law. Here’s why

By Carl Szabo

Last month, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed SB 7072, his “anti-bias” law, in a move designed to fire a major volley at America’s leading businesses and rally the “America first” base. By juxtaposing heartfelt stories about the dangers of authoritarianism with a bill capitalizing on the anti-tech fervor and alleged anti-conservative bias online, DeSantis painted a picture of a humble bill meant to protect Florida citizens’ free speech online.

Unfortunately, the social media bill will restrict, not bolster, free speech online. We could not stand idly by as the government requires private parties to host speech that goes against their chosen guidelines, potentially ruining that service for users and businesses alike.

For this reason, we took the step to challenge SB 7072 on multiple constitutional grounds to protect Florida consumers, small businesses and free speech…

The First Amendment doesn’t just protect your right to speak – it also protects your right not to speak. And the government cannot force any business to host content that offends it. SB 7072’s compelled government speech not only violates the text and intent of our founders, it makes us more like the very authoritarian regimes our country stands against…

SB 7072 would bring us one step closer to a state-run internet, where the government decides who may speak and on what terms.

Free Speech

Reason: The World Loves Free Speech—Except When They’re Offended

By J.D. Tuccille

“Support for free speech is generally expressed by great majorities in all countries when people are asked their opinion,” finds Who Cares About Free Speech?, a report recently published by Danish think tank Justitia, Columbia University’s Global Freedom of Expression, and Aarhus University’s Department of Political Science. In February of this year, researchers surveyed an average of 1,500 respondents each in 33 countries to come up with that seemingly encouraging result. The devil is in the details, though.

“While citizens in most countries think that criticism of the government should be allowed, many people are unwilling to allow statements that are critical or insulting of particular groups, their religion, or the nation,” the authors add. “Moreover, citizens do not always prioritize free speech when there is a potential trade-off with other things they value, such as national security, good health, and the economy.”

Washington Monthly: Our Endangered Right to Protest

By Tabatha Abu El-Haj

This past year demonstrated that, even in the high digital age, taking to the streets remains a critical source of political power for everyday Americans. But cities also experienced rioting. As in Baltimore after Freddie Gray’s killing in 2015 and in Ferguson, Missouri, after the death of Michael Brown, some participants, especially at night, crossed the line. And on January 6, 2021, the world watched an all-out riot at the U.S. Capitol.

For many Americans, this tension has confirmed their fear of a broad construction of the right of assembly. The Founders, however, fully understood such risks when they singled out assembly for robust First Amendment protection. Angry crowds that form to respond to perceived abuses of governmental power are inevitably disruptive, and they can pose substantial risks to public safety, especially when the police are out in great force. Still, as revolutionaries, the framers of the amendment recognized that First Amendment freedoms need breathing space to survive. They recognized that public assemblies need license to be disorderly. And they wrote the First Amendment with this wisdom in mind.

We, however, have lost that wisdom. In a year where Americans have assembled in record numbers for political ends, the people’s constitutional “right . . . peaceably to assemble” has been strikingly absent—both on the streets and in courts.

Online Speech Platforms

The Guardian: Revealed: rightwing firm posed as leftist group on Facebook to divide Democrats

By Julia Carrie Wong

A digital marketing firm closely linked to the pro-Trump youth group Turning Point USA was responsible for a series of deceptive Facebook ads promoting Green party candidates during the 2018 US midterm elections, the Guardian can reveal.

In an apparent attempt to split the Democratic vote in a number of close races, the ads purported to come from an organization called America Progress Now (APN) and used socialist memes and rhetoric to urge leftwing voters to support Green party candidates.

Facebook was aware of the true identity of the advertiser – the conservative marketing firm Rally Forge – and the deceptive nature of the ads, documents seen by the Guardian show, but the company determined that they did not violate its policies…

The revelation that the ads were linked to a rightwing organization raises questions about the Federal Election Commission’s enforcement of campaign finance laws. APN and its ads appeared to violate federal laws that require independent expenditures to be filed with the FEC and include proper disclosures on advertisements, as ProPublica and Vice News first reported in 2018…

The former FEC commissioner Ann Ravel, who reviewed the case at the request of the Guardian, said that were she still on the FEC, she would now refer this “stunning” case to the justice department for investigation…

Brendan Fischer, director of federal reform at CLC, said: “This is an example of why disclosure is so important in elections: swing state voters who saw ‘America Progress Now’ ads promoting Green party candidates would’ve had no idea that they were the handiwork of Republican political operatives. The FEC’s job is to enforce the transparency laws and protect voters’ right to know who is trying to influence them, but the agency here failed to conduct even a minimal investigation.”

The States

OPB: Oregon lawmakers increasingly unlikely to take up campaign finance

By Dirk VanderHart

The Oregon Legislature is unlikely to take any meaningful action to regulate or bolster the state’s campaign finance system this year, after gaining wide latitude to do so in the 2020 election.

Proposed bills that would create limits to campaign finance contributions in the state — a notoriously difficult topic in the Capitol — have little chance of moving as lawmakers near a fast-approaching adjournment, according to lawmakers working on the issue.

And even a more widely supported concept that would allow candidates to finance their campaigns with public money if they agree to limit private donations appears dead, its chief sponsor said on Thursday.

“It’s my impression that the Senate is not willing to move the bill,” said state Rep. Dan Rayfield, D-Corvallis. “There may be multiple reasons. I’m not exactly clear why.”

Boston Globe: Mass. Republican Party explored whether it can use its own money to pay for a candidate’s legal fees

By Matt Stout

The Massachusetts Republican Party, which has struggled mightily to raise cash in recent years, asked state campaign finance regulators last month if it can use its own money to pay attorney fees for a Republican candidate facing “legal actions” brought by a state agency, according to documents made public late last week.

ABC 11: Florida bans ‘critical race theory’ from its classrooms

By Bobby Caina Calvan, Associated Press

Florida’s state Board of Education banned “critical race theory” from public school classrooms Thursday, adopting new rules it said would shield schoolchildren from curricula that could “distort historical events.”

Florida’s move was widely expected as a national debate intensifies about how race should be used as a lens in classrooms to examine the country’s tumultuous history…

Both sides accuse the other of politicizing classroom instruction and violating the free speech rights of countless people by limiting the allowable points of view.

Tiffany Donnelly

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

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