Daily Media Links 6/22

June 22, 2022   •  By Tiffany Donnelly   •  
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A Growing Threat: How Disinformation Damages American Democracy: Testimony of Mr. Gary M. Lawkowski, Senior Fellow, the Institute for Free Speech

For my day job, I live and work in the Commonwealth of Virginia. When I want to come downtown, whether it is to testify before you, attend a Washington Capitals game, or just take in the sights, I will usually hop in my car and drive up the interstate into town. Like many people, I think I am a pretty good driver. I wish I could say the same for everyone else I see on the road. In spite of the beautiful view of the city and the monuments crossing over the river, going up and down the interstate and driving through the city is rarely a pleasant experience. It seems no matter how fast I am driving, there will always be some maniac weaving in and out of traffic, blowing past me. Disinformation is a bit like driving. We all think we are good at identifying what is true and what is not, and that the problem is everyone else. This is not a new feeling: During the 1800s, humorist Josh Billings reportedly said “It ain’t ignorance causes so much trouble; it’s folks knowing so much that ain’t so.” Whether we call it “disinformation,” “misinformation,” or just people knowing so much that is not so, the concern is not new. The reality though is that we should approach the problem with a healthy dose of humility. Just as it may turn out that we are the maniac on the highway, it may well turn out that we are the ones who know so much that just is not so.

Ed. note: The hearing before the Committee on House Administration Subcommittee on Elections begins today at 2:30pm. The full witness list is available here. This proceeding will be streamed live on https://cha.house.gov/.

Supreme Court

Reuters: U.S. Supreme Court rejects Musk-backed challenge to SEC’s ‘gag’ rule

By Jody Godoy

The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected a challenge brought by a former Xerox Corp executive and backed by Elon Musk to a Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) rule requiring people who agree to settlements with the agency not to deny its allegations against them.

The justices declined to hear former Xerox chief financial officer Barry Romeril’s appeal of a lower court’s decision that the rule does not violate his free speech rights under the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment.

The Courts

Techdirt: Giant Private Prison Company Goes To Court To Try To Get Lawyer To Stop Tweeting About Them

By Mike Masnick

Just last week, [private prison company] CoreCivic was in the 9th Circuit appeals court trying to overturn a dismissal of its SLAPP lawsuit that it filed against investment firm Candide Group and a Forbes writer, Morgan Simon, for making claims about the company that turned out to be pretty accurate. In the process, CoreCivic is trying to undermine California’s useful anti-SLAPP law by saying it can’t be used in federal court (something the 9th Circuit has already allowed in other cases).

But, back in Tennessee (CoreCivic’s home state), the company is looking to suppress speech in a different way: literally asking a court to issue a gag order on lawyer Daniel Horwitz, who is representing the family of Terry Childress, who died in one of CoreCivic’s hellholes. Horwitz has been tweeting about the case, including revealing some pretty damning documents about the Trousdale Turner Correctional Center, where Childress died…

CoreCivic didn’t like that. It didn’t like that at all. It complained to Horwitz about his tweeting, and suggested that it would ask the court to stop him from doing so. In response, Horwitz went to court first, asking the judge to rule that he could continue discussing these matters publicly.

ABA Journal: Federal judge must reevaluate high school’s ban on T-shirts with gun images, 7th Circuit says

By Debra Cassens Weiss

A federal appeals court has ruled that a judge applied the wrong legal standard when he tossed a student’s challenge to his high school’s ban on T-shirts with gun images.

The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals at Chicago said the student’s case should be remanded, so U.S. District Judge William C. Griesbach could evaluate the lawsuit under the 1969 U.S. Supreme Court decision Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District. Chief Judge Diane S. Sykes wrote the June 15 panel opinion.

Bloomberg Law: A Free-Speech Case Tangles a Tech Billionaire, Twitter Troll

By Isaiah Poritz

Almost as quickly, a consultant working for unnamed clients took Twitter Inc. to court in a bid to unmask Sheth’s mysterious troll. The petitioner, Bayside Advisory LLC, leaned on a 1998 law that lets copyright holders subpoena platforms such as Twitter to identify anonymous account holders who post their works without permission.

That case is now winding its way through the federal courts in California, gaining attention from digital-rights groups and copyright organizations who say it could rekindle debate about online anonymity, the First Amendment, and protections against rampant copyright infringement on the internet. A ruling may land in the coming days, but is likely to be challenged.

Reason (Volokh Conspiracy): Rep. Devin Nunes Loses Right of Publicity Claim Against @DevinBull (?)

By Eugene Volokh

In Nunes v. Meredith, decided today by Judge Jennifer Thurston (E.D. Cal.), Congressman Devin Nunes sued Ben Paul Meredith for common law misappropriation and stalking, based on “Meredith’s purported pattern of public, negative commentary about Nunes and his political career.” The facts:

Free Expression

Fox News: 10 years after Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling, big corporations haven’t hijacked our elections

By David N. Bossie

According to a report from the watchdog Open Secrets, the scare tactics from President Obama and the left are unfounded. The report, which analyzed the impact of the Citizens United decision on the eve of its 10 year anniversary, found that “despite fears that elections would be dominated by corporations, the biggest political players are actually wealthy individual donors…Major corporations didn’t take full advantage of their new political powers. Corporations accounted for no more than one-tenth of independent groups’ fundraising in each election cycle since the ruling.”

Despite these non-partisan findings, the left continues to perpetrate their core falsehood about Citizens United. Just last month former Clinton Labor Secretary and University of California, Berkeley Professor Robert Reich penned an op-ed stating, “The Supreme Court’s 2010 decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission opened the gates. It allows foreigners to influence U.S. elections through their investments in politically active American corporations.” 

As previously outlined, this was false then and it’s false now. The left is ruthlessly calculating and nothing is done by mistake. So, what’s the rationale for their latest phony anti-Citizens United push?

The Atlantic: Dave Chappelle’s Not Kidding

By David Frum

The function of humor as a release from the forbidden thought explains why some of the most productive sources of jokes are authoritarian societies, because they forbid so much. In the squares of Moscow today, protesters physically reenact an old Soviet joke, demonstrating with blank signs because “Everybody already knows everything I want to say.” That same function of comedy explains why “woke America” is the target of so much satirical humor today, because so much of wokeness aspires to forbid.

Independent Groups

Roll Call: Crypto-linked super PACs boost spending on primary races

By Caitlin Reilly

Mark Hays, a senior policy analyst on fintech for Americans for Financial Reform, said this much industry money flowing into politics has left fewer lawmakers willing to speak in favor of robust regulation.

“We’re seeing more policymakers put their fingers in the wind to see which way it’s blowing,” Hays said in an interview. “Both parties are showing signs of being susceptible to industry influence as a result of the large amounts of money that are being spent in the political process, and that should be concerning for all Americans, regardless of their political affiliation.”

Blockchain Association’s Smith defended spending by the industry, saying it’s a valid way to participate in the political process.

“The reason people are putting money into this is because they care,” Smith said. “Stakeholders have a right to express themselves politically and support candidates that express interest in learning about a certain technology. That’s very well within their rights. I think that political engagement is a good thing.”

The States

The Texan: Texas Supreme Court Takes Up Abortion Funds’ Defamation Suits Against Pro-Life Activist

By Isaiah Mitchell

The Texas Supreme Court has decided to take up a pair of defamation cases against a pro-life activist over the legality of calling abortion “murder.”

In 2020, three abortion funds — the Lilith Fund, Texas Equal Access Fund, and the Afiya Center — sued Mark Lee Dickson, founder of the “Sanctuary Cities for the Unborn” initiative, after he encouraged cities to pass an ordinance that declared the abortion funds “criminal organizations.” Their lawsuits also accuse Dickson of defaming them in social media posts that call abortion murder.

The Lilith Fund sued him in Travis County and the latter two groups sued him in Dallas County, but since both cases concern the same issue, the Supreme Court of Texas consolidated them when it agreed to hear them on Friday.

Tiffany Donnelly

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