By Emily Ekins
A new Cato national survey finds that self-censorship is on the rise in the United States. Nearly two-thirds-62%-of Americans say the political climate these days prevents them from saying things they believe because others might find them offensive…
The survey [also] found that many Americans think a person’s private political donations should impact their employment. Nearly a quarter (22%) of Americans would support firing a business executive who personally donates to Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden’s campaign. Even more, 31% support firing a business executive who donates to Donald Trump’s re-election campaign.
Support rises among political subgroups. Support increases to 50% of strong liberals who support firing executives who personally donate to Trump. And more than a third (36%) of strong conservatives support firing an executive for donating to Biden’s presidential campaign.
By Ryan Lizza
We were curious how much this debate over cancel culture – which has quickly morphed from a Twitter obsession for elite journalists to a campaign rallying cry for Trump – has permeated the public consciousness. We asked our polling partner, Morning Consult, to field some questions in our weekly survey…
A plurality (46%) of Americans believe that cancel culture “has gone too far.” About a quarter of Americans – many of whom are perhaps blissfully offline – said they didn’t know or had no opinion on the matter. When they are removed from the results, a clear majority – across almost every demographic category – says that cancel culture has gone too far…
Glen Falls Post-Star: Court grants temporary injunction, preventing enforcement of Glens Falls protest law
By Chad Arnold
A federal judge on Wednesday granted an injunction in a lawsuit filed against the city over an ordinance requiring demonstration permits, temporarily blocking parts of the law from being enforced until a decision on the case is handed down.
U.S. District Judge Lawrence Kahn, in a 50-page ruling, said parts of City Code Section 87 are broad and found that plaintiffs in the case have “shown a likelihood for success in their First Amendment challenge.”
The law requires any large demonstration, or “pre-planned gatherings” of 25 or more, within the city to first acquire a permit and provides a window of up to 28 days for the city to either grant or deny the permit, so long as written notice is provided…
The injunction prevents the city from enforcing any aspects of the law pertaining to the permitting process as well as a ban on signs…
Kahn also ruled that a “politically biased” government official could potentially use the law’s 28-day window to grant or deny a demonstration permit to “hinder an applicants political activism” undetected and without justification.
U.S. Senators Kamala D. Harris (D-CA), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Ron Wyden (D-OR), and Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and 23 additional Senators on Wednesday sent a letter pressing Attorney General Bill Barr and Acting Secretary Chad Wolf for answers on the alarming actions taken against protesters by federal law enforcement agents deployed by the Trump Administration, as well as threats by President Trump to deploy federal officers to more American cities…
The senators [wrote]: “…The right of Americans to join together, assemble peaceably, and protest is vital to our democracy. It is at the core of the First Amendment. We decry violence in all its forms. But Americans should be able to exercise their rights under the First Amendment without inappropriate interference or legally questionable activities by federal officers…”
Full text of the letter is available here.
Right to Protest
Washington Post: Trump’s crackdown in Portland is an attack on free speech
By Jennifer Peterson
On Monday, President Trump announced plans to deploy DHS agents in Chicago as well as cities where protests against police brutality continue…
These actions raise many political and legal questions. Among these are questions about freedom of speech and use of the streets, or whether protesters have a right to occupy those streets. The federal government appears to believe they do not, moving to forcibly remove them in the name of public order. This is, in many ways, a clash over the meaning and extent of the public forum.
More than 80 years ago, faced with local officials who were abusing their power to suppress citizen speech, the Supreme Court created the public forum, designating city streets and parks as venues for citizen expression. At this moment, when the question of who has the authority to occupy the streets is again at issue, it is worth revisiting how and why the courts felt the need to define city streets and parks as the people’s podium.
By Walter Olson
In recent days the Department of Homeland Security has dispatched federal law enforcement officers to Portland, scene of more than 50 consecutive nights of protests, which have regularly included damage to the federal courthouse and other major buildings. Oregon Public Broadcasting has reported one protester’s account of being pulled off the street by a group of federal officers in camouflage, carried off in a van, asked questions which he eventually refused to answer without an attorney, and later released without charges…
It is possible to be alarmed at the allegations of DHS behavior and also understand that there are some legitimate grounds (together with extensive, though not limitless, legal authority) for federal law enforcement to intervene in the Portland disorders.
By Brian Flood
A far-left website called Courier Newsroom has managed to drive liberal messaging in key states online and on social media, with piles of cash and no financial disclosure – but former Nevada Attorney General Adam Paul Laxalt thinks it will soon “erode the public’s trust in media” if the business model is allowed to continue.
Courier Newsroom, tied to a multibillion dollar left-wing dark money operation, has strategically placed websites in key battleground states running “news stories” that often appear to be little more than Democratic Party talking points. The same operation also promotes its content on social media platforms and places expensive ads on Facebook, where it’s categorized as a Media/News organization…
While the Courier Newsroom appears overtly political, its newsroom status allows it to avoid financial reporting and disclosure requirements – meaning the amount of cash that can be used to publish and promote its content is essentially limitless, with no oversight.
Online Speech Platforms
Campaigns & Elections: The Potential Fallout From A Facebook Political Ad Blackout
By Cheryl Hori
My view is no, we shouldn’t ban political ads on Facebook. And here’s why:
Communities of color and minority outreach and mobilization groups will be hurt the most.
Of the digital advertising platforms, Facebook is currently the only major platform that still allows for 1:1 targeting/list matching for political advertising.
For organizations and campaigns that rely on messaging to mobilize Black, Latinx, AAPI, and LGBTQ voters, there are fewer and fewer good options to identify their voter base in a more mobile and transitory world…
Accessibility will drop and wasteful spending will rise, which means smaller campaigns and organizations will pay the highest price.
Without Facebook ads, local campaigns and organizations who rely on being able to “spend as little as $5 a day,” have few options for low or no-minimum platforms. And without the accuracy of Facebook’s targeting, campaigns will have to cast a wider audience net, which means they end up paying more to reach the same number of relevant voters.
By Rudy Takala
A Tuesday incident in which certain websites briefly vanished from Google search results may have inadvertently exposed an internal list aimed at suppressing certain news outlets, a former engineer for the company said.
“It appears to have revealed the existence of another blacklist that disproportionately targets conservatives,” Mike Wacker theorized in a message to Mediaite. “The glitch is that sites on this blacklist disappeared from Google search results, but the existence of the list is very much by design. And that raises a major question: Why was this blacklist created in the first place, and what else is it used for?”
Columbus Dispatch: Feds: Householder pay-to-play scheme extended beyond House Bill 6
By Randy Ludlow
Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder’s alleged pay-to-play scheme to pass legislation for special interests extended beyond House Bill 6 and its $1 billion ratepayer bailout of a pair of ailing nuclear power plants.
Householder and charged co-conspirator Neil Clark, a lobbyist, are portrayed in a federal affidavit as engaging in an active effort to solicit big, secretive checks in exchange for favorable consideration of bills.
The Perry County Republican talked of adding money from the payday-loan, nursing home and other industries to the $60 million funneled by FirstEnergy to Generation Now, the “dark money” nonprofit Householder allegedly controlled to defend House Bill 6 from a repeal attempt…
Catherine Turcer, executive director of the good-government group Common Cause Ohio, called for lawmakers to improve campaign-finance disclosure and shine a light to expose dark money and end pay-to-play.
“We shouldn’t need an FBI investigation to connect the dots. If we had had strong campaign-finance disclosure rules, Larry Householder would not have been able to pervert our political system the way that he did,” she said.
“It’s past time for the Ohio legislature to take action to increase transparency of political spending and stop allowing dark money to distort the democratic process … Ohio voters deserve nothing less,” Turcer said.
We recently discussed a Vermont principal who was told that she would have to retire after expressing her opinion of Black Lives Matter on her personal Facebook page. Now, a popular social studies teacher and baseball coach at Walled Lake Western High School in Michigan has been fired after tweeting his support for President Donald Trump and reopening the schools. For free speech advocates, the firing of Justin Kucera, 28, raises concerns that he might be another teacher terminated for expressing unpopular views outside of the school.
Hollywood Reporter: New York Legislature Passes Bill to Protect Free Speech From Frivolous Lawsuits
By Eriq Gardner
New York lawmakers have taken a step to protect free speech from frivolous lawsuits. On Wednesday, the state legislature voted to give local judges the ability to pause court proceedings and weigh the merit of legal claims whenever First Amendment activity on an issue of public interest is on the line. If signed by Governor Andrew Cuomo, the legislation may also deter so-called strategic lawsuits against public participation (SLAPP) by shifting a defendant’s legal costs to losing plaintiffs.