Daily Media Links 6/17

June 17, 2022   •  By Tiffany Donnelly   •  
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Ed. note: The Daily Media Update will return Tuesday, June 21.

We’re Hiring!

Reason (Volokh Conspiracy): Institute for Free Speech Looking for Litigator (with 7+ Years of Experience)

By Eugene Volokh

From the Institute’s site, which includes the relevant details:

The Institute for Free Speech is hiring a Senior Attorney with a minimum of seven years of experience. The location for this position is either at our Washington, D.C. office or remotely anywhere in the United States.

Founded in 2005 by former Federal Election Commission Chairman Bradley A. Smith, the nonpartisan Institute for Free Speech promotes and defends First Amendment rights to freely speak, assemble, publish, and petition the government….

This is a rare opportunity to work with a growing team to litigate a long-term legal strategy directed toward the protection of Constitutional rights. We challenge laws, practices, and policies that infringe upon First Amendment freedoms, such as speech codes that censor parents at school board meetings, laws restricting people’s ability to give and receive campaign contributions, and any intrusion into people’s private political associations. You would work to hold censors accountable; and to secure legal precedents clearing away a thicket of laws, regulations, and practices that suppress speech about government and candidates for political office, threaten citizens’ privacy if they speak or join groups, and impose heavy burdens on political activity….

The Courts

Tampa Bay Times: Judge blocks Florida lawmakers’ attempt to limit contributions in ballot drives

By Jim Saunders, News Service of Florida

A federal judge has rejected an attempt by Florida lawmakers to limit contributions to political committees supporting ballot initiatives, saying it violates the First Amendment.

U.S. District Judge Allen Winsor issued an 18-page ruling Wednesday that included a permanent injunction against the $3,000 contribution limit, which passed in 2021 and was revised this year. The limit was part of long-running efforts by Republican leaders to make it harder to pass ballot initiatives to amend the state Constitution.

Winsor also disputed arguments by attorneys for the Florida Elections Commission, the defendant in the lawsuit, that the contribution limit would help curb fraud in the crucial process of collecting petition signatures to put initiatives on the ballot.

Colorado Politics: Colorado Senate candidate Joe O’Dea sues over mailers comparing him with GOP primary rival Ron Hanks

By Ernest Luning

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Joe O’Dea wants the courts, federal election authorities and Colorado prosecutors to stop an anonymous political group from distributing flyers that compare O’Dea with GOP primary rival Ron Hanks.

O’Dea, the owner of a construction company and a first-time candidate for office, alleges the mailers defame him and violate multiple laws in complaints filed late Wednesday with the U.S. District Court for Colorado, the Federal Election Commission and several district attorneys around the state…

The mailers, O’Dea argues in the federal lawsuit, are part of a “scheme to defraud citizens of Colorado in an attempt to divert votes away from O’Dea.”

In his complaint to the FEC, O’Dea warns that if commissioners don’t “provide immediate relief to stop these willful violations of federal election law, it may change the outcome of a very important Senate race.”

Biden Administration

New York Post: Big Sister II: Kamala Harris leads latest Biden ‘disinformation’ team

By Steven Nelson

The Biden administration on Thursday created a new internet policy task force — this one led by Vice President Kamala Harris — with goals including “developing programs and policies” to protect “political figures” and journalists from “disinformation,” “abuse” and “harassment.” …

A presidential memorandum establishing the new task force describes a sweeping mission to protect people who seek out a role in public life from online critics…

The new task force’s members include other Biden heavy hitters, such as Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, Attorney General Merrick Garland and Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

Washington Post: White House rolls out task force to curb online abuse

By Cat Zakrzewski

“We are very mindful of the First Amendment issues,” said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to candidly discuss the White House’s plans. “But banning threatening speech is not protected by the First Amendment. So while we are going to carefully navigate those issues, we are also going to remain laser-focused on the non-speech aspects.”

Free Expression

New York Times: Extradition Order for Julian Assange Approved by Britain

By Megan Specia

The British government approved an extradition order on Friday for Julian Assange, the embattled WikiLeaks founder, confirming a court decision that he can be sent to the United States to stand trial on espionage charges, though his legal fight against the decision is not over.

While the order is a blow for Mr. Assange, whose case is seen by rights groups as a potential challenge to press freedom, he is expected to appeal the decision in a British court, and the government said he had 14 days to do so.

Washington Times: Schools increasingly weaponize ‘no-contact’ orders to censor speech, civil liberties groups say

By Ryan Lovelace

Civil liberties groups say their efforts to fight censorship on college campuses are increasingly facing schools that weaponize discrimination and harassment policies to silence unwanted expression.

Colleges are now using so-called “no-contact orders” as de facto speech codes to prevent people from engaging in constitutionally protected expression, according to Tyson Langhofer, director of the Alliance Defending Freedom’s Center for Academic Freedom.

“That’s a new phenomenon that we’re seeing, where they’re essentially saying that they have a duty to protect students from speech they don’t like, and they’re willing to actually issue a no-contact order, basically a restraining order, against that,” Mr. Langhofer said. “And that’s a new phenomenon that’s very concerning because it’s being driven by the students, and the universities are just capitulating to that.”

Roll Call: Companies face tug-of-war on lobbying agenda versus ESG values

By Ellen Meyers

Corporations have a myriad of issues for which to advocate in Congress, said Ariel Meyerstein, senior vice president of community investing and development at Citibank. That can mean they have to pursue alliances with lawmakers who may support policies that would benefit corporations from a tax or financial perspective but not on other issues.

“When they donate to a candidate, they do it for lots of reasons. That candidate may have a wide record. Some aspects of the record, you might not really like,” Meyerstein said at the Social Innovation Summit. “But because they donated to that candidate, it’s not because they were for that aspect of their record. It’s that they happened to be aligned in other aspects.”

“It’s very hard to tease out sometimes when you just look at the donations and what people vote for,” he continued. “That’s challenging to draw a strong conclusion from. It’s also very hard for companies to say, ‘Well if someone is for X, then they’re off our list completely.’ Some of us did that with what happened with respect to what happened on Jan. 6.”

“But it is very hard to have a permanent list, especially if it’s a big part of who’s elected. It’s extremely challenging and messy,” Meyerstein added.

Online Speech Platforms

Washington PostWhen Twitter suspends users, their views get more extreme

By Tamar Mitts and Jack Snyder

Supporters of what became the Texas statute argued that social media platforms “have acted primarily to limit mostly conservative views.” Opponents of the Texas law pointed to the “cesspool of racial slurs, misogyny, and targeted harassment that the platforms would be powerless to control” if it went into effect. But new research shows that pushing defamation, lies, incitement and hate speech off mainstream platforms — “deplatforming” — can backfire, driving extremist speech onto niche platforms where conspirators thrive in isolation from reality-based discourse.

The States

Washington Post: Caught in the culture wars, teachers are being forced from their jobs

By Hannah Natanson and Moriah Balingit

Educators fear conditions will only worsen as lawmakers seek to regulate how teachers talk about any number of issues, including politics, race, history, gender identity and sexuality, creating a new basis to push teachers out. In some cases, the authors of education-related bills and laws have used vague, broad and unclear wording, leading to widespread concern that teachers may unintentionally run afoul of the law.

Bonnie Snyder, director of K-12 outreach for the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, said public school teachers generally do not enjoy the same free speech rights in the classroom, where they are acting as agents of the state. FIRE opposes bans on teacher speech but also recognizes that state legislatures have the right to enact them.

“It’s government speech,” Snyder said, adding that teachers are hired to deliver state-approved curriculum. “When teachers veer from those guidelines, you’re on thinner ice.”

Oklahoma Watch: Stitt’s ‘Oklahoma Turnaround’ Ads May Violate Ethics Rules

By Paul Monies

The latest campaign commercial for Gov. Kevin Stitt prominently featuring his appointed attorney general, John O’Connor, is raising eyebrows in political circles and may run afoul of state Ethics Commission rules for electioneering, according to several Republicans and Democrats. 

Reason: Florida Officials Use a Victim’s Rights Law To Stop a Newspaper from Printing Deputies’ Names

By Scott Shackford

Florida deputies shot and killed a man during an eviction process, and now a judge is prohibiting a local newspaper from printing the names of the officers involved.

You can blame Florida’s Marsy’s Law for this unconstitutional censorship…

“Freedom of speech means that it’s up to the Herald-Tribune to decide whether to report information in its possession, especially facts about such a significant matter as a fatal shooting by law enforcement,” said James B. Lake, one of the attorneys hired by the newspaper to fight the injunction.

Tiffany Donnelly

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