Daily Media Links 7/20

July 20, 2022   •  By Tiffany Donnelly   •  
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In the News

Insider: Ted Cruz: Democrats used to support free speech, but ‘unfortunately, that time has long since passed’

By Hanna Kang

David Keating, president of the Institute for Free Speech, a nonprofit organization that supports the deregulation of political money, testified Tuesday that the DISCLOSE Act would hurt people who exercise their legal right to participate in the nation’s elections.

“Significant portions of the bill would violate the privacy of advocacy groups and their supporters – including those groups who do nothing more than speak about policy issues before Congress or express views on federal judicial nominees,” he said. “Free speech can mean the difference between liberty and tyranny.”

Ed. note: Read David Keating’s full written testimony here or here (PDF).

Gateway Pundit: School Board Pays Out Major Settlement After Censoring Critics and Deleting Their Comments from Board Meetings

The Pennsbury School District was called out after speakers were shouted down and had their words edited out of recordings of school board meetings.

A solicitor for the Pennsbury School Board yelled, “You’re done!” while critics were speaking.

Simon Campbell and Doug Marshall were two of the community members that had their comments cut short and one had comments removed from the video of the meeting…

Here is a video of Simon Campbell calling out the school board…

The school board was recently forced to pay out a large settlement for censoring the speech of attendees.

Delaware Valley Journal: Pennsbury School Board Must Pay $300k for Violating Residents’ Free Speech Rights

By Linda Stein

The Pennsbury School Board has agreed to pay $300,000 to settle a lawsuit brought over First Amendment violations. It also agreed to change its policies regarding the treatment of citizens who want to express their views to officials.

“Rules for public comment periods are meant to maintain time limits and protect each speaker’s right to be heard, not police which viewpoints are expressed. Pennsbury’s rules were so vague and subjective that the board could effectively shut down any speech they didn’t like, and that’s exactly what they did,” said Del Kolde, senior attorney at the Institute for Free Speech.


U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell: McConnell: Freedoms of Speech and Association Are Bedrock American Liberties

U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) submitted the following remarks for the record at today’s Senate Rules Committee hearing on the DISCLOSE Act:

“Today, with our country facing an inflation crisis, a violent crime crisis, and a functionally open southern border, our Democratic colleagues are choosing to focus on chilling Americans’ First Amendment rights and enabling more harassment of citizens for their private views.

“Back in 1958, the NAACP fought Alabama’s Attorney General, a segregationist Democrat, all the way to the Supreme Court to defend the bedrock American liberty of associational privacy.

“Here’s what Justice Harlan said for the majority back then. ‘Inviolability of privacy in group association may in many circumstances be indispensable to preservation of freedom of association, particularly where a group espouses dissident beliefs.’

“As the majority opinion put it, this was, ‘hardly a novel perception,’ even back in 1958. And yet, for most of my career, I have had to push back against Democrats’ repeated attempts to unlearn this fundamental Constitutional lesson. I have repeatedly defended Americans’ right to join together and voice opinions.

Ed. note: Leader McConnell also delivered floor remarks, which can be read here and viewed here.

Washington Post (“The Technology 202”): Democrats plan sweeping net neutrality bill as FCC majority stalls

By Cristiano Lima

Democratic lawmakers’ inability to secure a majority at the Federal Communications Commission has stymied plans for the agency to restore Obama-era net neutrality rules.

Amid the impasse, lawmakers are renewing efforts to take the issue into their own hands with a sweeping new bill, according to a copy obtained by The Technology 202. 

Led by Sens. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), the Net Neutrality and Broadband Justice Act would reclassify broadband as a telecommunications service and open companies like AT&T and Verizon up to stricter oversight by the FCC…

Some net neutrality advocates also think Republican calls to designate social media companies as common carriers could make their positions more untenable, the person said. 

Republicans have floated the idea as a means to address an alleged anti-conservative bias by companies like Facebook and Twitter. By treating them as common carriers, Republicans have argued, social networks could theoretically be barred from discriminating against viewpoints.

Arguing that social media platforms — but not internet service providers — should be regulated like common carriers “quickly becomes gymnastics,” the person said.


Just the News: In rebuke to Biden, Homeland Security advisory panel finds no need for disinformation board

By John Solomon

An expert advisory panel for the Homeland Security Department on Monday evening issued a sobering rebuke of the Biden administration, declaring that there was no need to have created a Disinformation Governance Board.

“We have now had briefings on the relevant disinformation-related activities of the Department. We are not ready, as of yet, to provide recommendations on the Department’s most effective approach to disinformation threats, including commitments to increase transparency and protect civil rights, civil liberties, and privacy,” the panel wrote in a short memo.

“However, at this point, we have concluded that there is no need for a Disinformation Governance Board,” it added…

“From its initially botched rollout, the ‘Ministry of Truth’ lacked a defined mission or even direction. It was clear it was a political tool to be wielded by the party in control,” House Homeland Security Republicans tweeted.

Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., added: “DHS decides today there was no need for its unconstitutional Disinformation Board after all.”

Free Expression

The Atlantic: How to Fix the Bias Against Free Speech on Campus

By Conor Friedersdorf

A recent investigation of eight abortion-rights supporters at American University, in Washington, D.C., offers yet more evidence that college administrators and diversity-and-inclusion bureaucrats—some of whom undermine free speech as if their job duties demanded it—need new checks on their power.

Online Speech Platforms

New York Times: 3 Ways Musk Can Support Free Speech

By Shira Ovide

Several experts in online speech have told me that Musk could build trust in Twitter as a place that encourages a vigorous exchange of ideas by ensuring that the site allows posts from U.S. elected officials and candidates and only restricts discussions of political topics in extreme cases.

Deciding when Twitter and other sites should intervene and delete political posts or ban accounts is the challenge…

But the Knight First Amendment Institute has said that it’s important for sites to give a “heavy presumption in favor of leaving political speech up” and “respond in a measured way to violations” of community standards.

What the experts are saying, essentially, is that people benefit from evaluating what their elected leaders say and from talking about their government and its policies, even if some of the conversations contain misleading information or even bigotry. That’s not far from what Twitter’s policies already say.

Candidates and Campaigns

Vox: Campaigns may have lost their most effective — and annoying — outreach tool

By Rachel M. Cohen

Text messaging — with their markedly high “open rates” — is an especially potent form of political outreach: Since 2016, texting has become one of the most appealing ways for campaigns to engage voters or supporters, especially as so many have ditched their landlines.

But as part of a broader effort to crack down on the fast-growing problem of spam calls and texts, mobile carriers like AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon have been rolling out a new policy that affects any business, nonprofit, union, or campaign that intends to send at least 3,000 messages per day.

It means that political campaigns and advocacy groups have fewer rights to text you, if you haven’t affirmatively opted in to receive the messages — and it’s causing distress among those groups ahead of the midterms.

The changes — known as “10DLC” for the 10-digit long codes that high-volume businesses and apps use to text local numbers — will require organizations to register with the Campaign Registry, a subsidiary of the Milan-based communications firm Kaleyra. Carriers will impose higher messaging fees and slower delivery rates for any group that fails to register, and in some cases block them from delivering messages altogether.

Every registered group must also limit their texts only to users who have opted-in to receive them, a massive change from the status quo. Progressive groups warn this new requirement will yield dire democratic consequences — particularly for the most marginalized who are typically ignored by elites and politicians. Others suggest these groups have grown too reliant on unsolicited texting, and that it’s not essential to successful mobilization.

Axios: Stacey Abrams’ blockbuster fundraising driven by out-of-state money

By Lachlan Markay and Emma Hurt

In one of the highest-profile gubernatorial battles in the country, Georgia Democrat Stacey Abrams is leveraging a vast pool of out-of-state money…

Abrams’ campaign and leadership committee have reported receiving about $7 million from Georgia donors, or just over 14% of the nearly $50 million they’ve combined to raise this cycle…

A substantial chunk of Abrams’ in-state raise — a $1.5 million donation to her leadership committee — came from Fair Fight, a voting policy group founded by Abrams herself.

If the trend holds, Abrams would be the only Georgia gubernatorial nominee from either party since at least the 1990s to receive a majority of campaign funds from out of state, according to an Axios analysis of campaign finance records…

Abrams has also taken full advantage of the new leadership committee structure, which allows unlimited contributions to an entity that can coordinate directly with campaigns.

The States

WSHU: Bellone vetoes repeal of Suffolk County’s public campaign finance program

By J.D. Allen

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone has vetoed a bill that would repeal its public campaign finance program.

Suffolk is the largest county in the state outside of New York City to have a campaign finance program. It would allow candidates for county executive, comptroller and legislator to access public dollars to run for office.

Bellone said it would be a step backwards for building diversity and equity in county government.

“I fundamentally believe that this bill is critical to our future here,” Bellone said. “We need to do everything that we can to help restore people’s faith in government to work, to make government more effective and efficient and to serve the people that it represents.”

Tiffany Donnelly

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