In the News
By Lara Korte
Meanwhile, AB 5 faces another legal challenge. A Southern California resident recently filed a case in federal court, saying the law burdens political speech, the Ventura County Star reported Sunday.
Aaron Starr, an Oxnard resident, told the Star that campaign workers collecting signatures are classified as employees under AB 5, but not those selling household goods door to door. That limits one’s ability to hire campaign workers, Starr told the Star.
San Francisco Chronicle: Supreme Court’s ruling on disclosing charitable contributions could leak into campaign finance law
By Bob Egelko
When the Supreme Court authorized unlimited political spending by corporations in the Citizens United ruling in 2010, it offered assurances that the public would still learn who was giving money to political candidates, because campaign finance laws required disclosure of major donors and their contributions.
As Justice Anthony Kennedy put it in a section of the ruling upholding disclosure requirements, “This transparency enables the electorate to make informed decisions.”
That was then. This is now, when campaign finance laws may be newly vulnerable after the court found a California donor disclosure law unconstitutional.
The law that the court overturned in a 6-3 ruling July 1 involved contributors to charitable organizations, not office-seekers. Their identities were to be disclosed, not to the general public, but to a unit at the state attorney general’s office that investigates charitable fraud and misappropriation and that is required to keep the names confidential.
But the majority’s rationale — that compelled disclosure exposes donors to potential threats and harassment, and thus violates their constitutional right of freedom of association — could conceivably be applied to major political donors, whose names are made public under federal law.
Washington Post: A major Supreme Court First Amendment decision could be at risk
By Samantha Barbas
In separate opinions issued on July 2, dissenting from the Supreme Court’s decision not to hear a case next term, Justices Clarence Thomas and Neil M. Gorsuch urged the court to revisit a major decision: New York Times v. Sullivan (1964). Widely regarded as one of the most important and consequential First Amendment decisions in history, in Sullivan the court declared “a profound national commitment to the principle that debate on public issues should be uninhibited, robust, and wide-open.” This decision revolutionized libel law and has guided how the Supreme Court and lower courts have interpreted the First Amendment in the subsequent decades.
If Gorsuch and Thomas get their way, however, and the court eventually modifies or overturns Sullivan, it could have a chilling effect on the ability to criticize government officials, as well as the freedom of the press to do investigative journalism and to hold government accountable.
By Asma Khalid and Arnie Seipel
With voting rights legislation stalled in the Senate because of Republican opposition, Vice President Harris suggested that she has talked to senators about exceptions to the legislative filibuster but said she will not be publicly negotiating an issue that the White House insists is up to lawmakers, she told NPR in an interview Tuesday…
Pressed on whether she is advocating that senators support a carveout to the filibuster for voting rights proposed by Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C., Harris said, “I don’t mean this in any offense, but I’m not going to negotiate this way. But I’m certainly having conversations with folks.”
The vice president did not clarify whom she has talked to about voting rights…
The White House has said that Biden does not support ending the filibuster altogether but that the administration leaves any changes up to the Senate…
Biden traveled to Philadelphia on Tuesday to deliver a speech on voting rights that has been promised for weeks. Progressives have been frustrated that he hasn’t more forcefully used the presidential “bully pulpit” to protect voting rights.
Daily Beast: Donald Trump May Already Be Violating Campaign Laws
By Roger Sollenberger
In his latest round of will-he-or-won’t-he, Donald Trump on Sunday got closer than ever to indicating he will run for president again, telling Fox Business he’s already made up his mind but can’t reveal his answer because of campaign finance issues.
The thing is, experts told The Daily Beast, in his quest to avoid violating election laws, Trump may have done just that.
Asked on Sunday about a possible 2024 bid, the former president told Fox Business host Maria Bartiromo, “I do know my answer, but I can’t reveal it yet because that has to do with campaign financing.” He added, “We’re going to do very well,” and said CNN and MSNBC “are gonna come out and endorse me” because, he claimed, his candidacy will increase viewership.
While Trump is notorious for playing games about the true intentions of his remarks, he’s previously said he’s already made up his mind. But his statements to Bartiromo—including a reference to endorsements—suggest he may have crossed into new territory, at least in the eyes of the Federal Election Commission…
Paul Ryan, vice president of policy and litigation at campaign finance reform group Common Cause, told The Daily Beast that Trump may be keenly concerned about the issue if he has plans to supercharge one of his existing PACs.
“The potential violations will get really serious if Trump uses an unlimited-money vehicle to promote a 2024 run,” Ryan said. “I’m a little surprised he hasn’t done this yet.”
Emory Law Journal: Hyperpartisan Campaign Finance
By Michael S. Kang
Hyperpartisanship dominates modern American politics and government, but today’s politics are strikingly different from the preceding period of American history, a Cold War Era when bipartisanship and ideological moderation predominated. Hyperpartisanship was not the salient dynamic in American politics when campaign finance law began, and as a result, campaign finance law developed under strikingly different assumptions about American politics than the current prevailing circumstances. Today’s campaign finance law, inherited from this preceding era, is thus mismatched to the campaign finance of today. Campaign finance law focuses on individual candidates as the central actors in fundraising and misses the role of parties in organizing the campaign finance landscape. It therefore both systematically underestimates the risk that parties pose in collectivizing the potential for campaign finance corruption and overestimates the First Amendment values promoted by modern campaign finance when the parties today focus so heavily on mobilizing their base and preaching to the choir.
By Steve Benham
The bills that failed at the Oregon Capitol aimed to limit big money in campaigns by establishing a small donor program and limiting campaign contributions. Neither House Bill 2680 nor House Bill 3343 made it to floor votes.
Oregon is one of five states that doesn’t have any limits on contributions.
The failure of the bills came after voters last November overwhelmingly passed Measure 107, a measure that amended the Oregon Constitution to allow limits to political contributions…
“It’s important to strike a balance between setting a reasonable limit so that no one person has a megaphone loud enough to drown out everyone else, while also not creating any unintended consequences,” [Gov. Kate Brown’s spokesperson] wrote. “For example, many states with stricter spending limits than Oregon have seen a proliferation of less transparent independent expenditure spending during campaigns.”
A push to put another campaign finance reform measure before voters is in the works.
Dan Meek, a public interest attorney, said his group Honest Elections is actively working on a 2022 ballot measure and there are many groups involved in the process, including the major labor unions.
“We all hope to come up with a single measure that we can all support,” he wrote in an email.
By Crescenzo Vellucci
The city of Sacramento’s latest gambit to infringe on the rights of those expressing opinions city leaders don’t like has failed – a Sacramento County Superior Court judge issued a tentative ruling Friday in favor of City Councilwoman Katie Valenzuela aide Skyler Henry, who the city was attempting to bar from city hall…
The ACLU joined Sacramento civil rights attorney Mark Merin, and other lawyers in the legal action, charging that the city violated “free speech protections and are an example of the danger posed to individuals when government officials attempt to punish speech they do not like. The right to speak critically of government officials forms the foundation of the First Amendment.”
By N’dea Yancey-Bragg
Last month, a circuit court judge ruled that Tanner Cross must be allowed to return to his job at Loudon County Public Schools.
Cross, a physical education teacher at Leesburg Elementary School, was placed on administrative leave after saying at a school board meeting that it was against his religion to address a student by a gender not assigned to them at birth.
The district appealed that decision…
“While LCPS respects the rights of public-school employees to free speech and free exercise of religion, those rights do not outweigh the rights of students to be educated in a supportive and nurturing environment,” the district said in a statement.
The Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative Christian legal group that is representing Cross,filed a reply brief with the Virginia Supreme Court on June 30 arguing that the lower court was correct to reinstate Cross.
“The lower court’s decision ordering Tanner’s reinstatement was a well-reasoned application of these facts to clearly established law, so there is no reason for the Virginia Supreme Court to take this appeal,” Tyson Langhofer, director of the Alliance Defending Freedom’s Center for Academic Freedom, said in a statement. “The school district wants to force Tanner to endorse its ideals and shut down any opposing views.”
Salt Lake Tribune: ACLU denounces hate crime charge over ‘Back the Blue’ sign damage
By Paighten Harkins
The American Civil Liberties Union of Utah said Monday that a southern Utah prosecutor’s decision to charge a 19-year-old with a hate crime for allegedly damaging a “Back the Blue” sign sends a message that the government will more harshly punish people who disagree with law enforcement…
While many in Utah fought for decades for the 2019 hate crimes statute that brings additional penalties for people who target victims based on personal attributes — like ancestry, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity and more — the ACLU opposed the bill and others that enhance penalties for people accused of hate crimes.
In the Monday statement, the ACLU said that these enhancements “are oftentimes used to single out unpopular groups or messages rather than provide protections for marginalized communities.”
“This case has confirmed those warnings,” the statement said.