In the News Keloland TV: Federal Judge Hears The Institute For Free Speech Case We have an update on the national non-profit that says two measures on South Dakota’s November ballot may violate your First Amendment Rights. The Institute for Free Speech is suing Attorney General Marty Jackley and Secretary of State Shantel Krebs. Friday morning a […]
State Policy Network: Institute for Free Speech sues South Dakota for right to analyze ballot measures (In the News)
By Matt Nese
The Institute seeks to do something it has done many times before: publish an objective analysis of ballot measure proposals that implicate First Amendment rights. Yet, under a recently adopted South Dakota law, any expenditure for any communication “concerning” a ballot measure triggers burdensome reporting, disclaimer, and donor disclosure requirements. IFS’s lawsuit asks the court to strike the law down as unconstitutional…
“If the First Amendment protects anything, it should protect speech about threats to the First Amendment. South Dakota’s sweeping regulation of speech about ballot measures strikes at our core values and violates constitutional rights,” IFS Chairman and former Federal Election Commission Chairman Bradley A. Smith explained…
Failure to comply with the law can result in prosecution and fines. Worse, South Dakota provides no way for groups to get advice from the state about the reach of the law. As a result, the Institute for Free Speech has turned to the courts to get an answer.
As IFS Legal Director Allen Dickerson warned, “the Institute’s analysis is not a political ad in any sense of the term. But South Dakota’s law is so broad that it may even regulate lengthy, academic publications. In regulating so broadly, South Dakota has left the realm of campaign finance regulation and directly threatens Americans’ right to publish.”
The Institute’s complaint is available here, and the request for a temporary restraining order is here. More information about the case is available here.
Filed Under: In the News
Taunton Daily Gazette: Beacon Hill Roll Call: Mass. Fiscal Alliance files suit against AG Healey, OCPF, over campaign finance law (In the News)
By Bob Katzen
The Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance last week filed a lawsuit against Attorney General Maura Healey and the Office of Campaign and Political Finance, alleging that one of the state’s campaign finance laws violates the constitution. The law requires ads that name any candidate or ballot question within 90 days of a General Election to include a statement from the sponsor’s chief executive officer in the case of a corporation, the chairman or principal officer of a group or association or the chief executive or business manager of a labor union. The law includes ads on television, radio and billboards, and in newspapers, magazines, periodicals and mailers.
The law is very specific and requires an officer’s statement on a television ad to be “conveyed by an unobscured, full-screen view of the person making the statement.” On Internet advertising, the statement must appear “in a clearly readable manner with a reasonable degree of color contrast between the background and printed statement.”
The ad must also include a list of the organization’s top five contributors and a link to the OCPF’s website. Anyone who violates any part of the law faces a year in prison and/or a $10,000 fine…
“There is no legitimate reason for the government to require a group’s CEO to appear on-screen during an ad,”, said Allen Dickerson, Legal Director of the Institute for Free Speech Legal which is working with MassFiscal on the suit. “Nor is there justification for listing individual donors on ads they may know nothing about. These requirements simply raise the cost of speaking about government by forcing speakers to waste their resources promoting the government’s message.”
We have an update on the national non-profit that says two measures on South Dakota’s November ballot may violate your First Amendment Rights.
The Institute for Free Speech is suing Attorney General Marty Jackley and Secretary of State Shantel Krebs. Friday morning a federal judge heard the case.
The group claims it wants to educate voters about Amendment ‘W’ and Initiated Measure 24. But, it says current state laws may not allow that.
The judge will issue a written order at a later date.
By Shira Schoenberg
Under [Massachusetts law], all ads that name candidates within 90 days of an election must disclose the organization’s top five donors. Ads must also include an on-camera statement from the organization’s principal officer.
Allen Dickerson, director of the Virginia-based Institute for Free Speech, who is filing the case for the Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance, said the eight seconds it takes to state the government disclosure in an ad costs organizations hundreds of dollars. “These requirements simply raise the cost of speaking about government by forcing speakers to waste their resources promoting the government’s message,” Dickerson said.
The Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance says it wants to run TV, radio and online ads in Sen. Marc Pacheco’s district. Pacheco, a Taunton Democrat, is not facing a contested election. The ads call attention to legislative votes to raise taxes on income over $1 million and to raise lawmakers’ pay.
The Alliance says if the regulations are not repealed, it will not run the ads.
The group objects to the need to disclose donors who only gave to the Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance’s general purpose, not to the particular ad; to the extra time and space needed in the ads, including the need to publish the address of the state Office of Campaign and Political Finance’s website; and to the requirement that the chairman appear on camera. They say the names of these donors are “irrelevant,” and it is also irrelevant to require the chairman to appear on camera and reveal personal characteristics, such as race, gender and disability.
The group says the disclosure laws infringe on its First Amendment rights.
“The only way that the Alliance … can avoid these burdens is to remain silent,” attorneys for the Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance wrote in the lawsuit.
Courthouse News Service: Opponents of Millionaire Tax Fight Massachusetts Disclosure Rules (In the News)
By Zack Huffman
A conservative nonprofit that plans to attack Massachusetts taxes in a pre-election ad campaign brought a federal complaint Wednesday to keep its donors secret.
Represented by Foley Hoag and the Institute for Free Speech, the Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance would fall under the state’s reporting scheme merely because it plans to mention state Senator Marc Pacheco in an ad.
But the alliance insists that mentioning Pacheco is not sufficient to compel its speech. Since the “does not promote, support, attack, or oppose a specific candidate,” it says it should be allowed to keep its donors private as a 501c4 organization.
“The alliance’s ads are about legislative issues regarding the revenue generation and spending priorities of the Massachusetts General Court, not the evaluation of candidacies for office – indeed, while Senator Pacheco is up for re-election, he is running uncontested,” the 32-page complaint states…
Because ads mention a candidate’s name and air within 90 days of an election, meanwhile, the state would have the alliance include a statement of support from one of its officers and identify its top five donors. Such requirements were created by laws passed in 2010 and 2014.
“The two major revisions to our state’s campaign finance laws that have occurred over the last several years are classic examples of intimidation legislation, plain and simple,” Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance spokesman Paul Craney said in a statement. “Our state government should be working to expand our First Amendment rights, not contract them. This lawsuit is not about getting rid of disclosure. Rather, this is about removing intimidation from the process.”
Government demands for irrelevant information violate First Amendment, lawsuit says Alexandria, VA – Today, Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance (MassFiscal), a nonpartisan nonprofit represented by the Institute for Free Speech, will file a federal lawsuit alleging that some Massachusetts campaign finance laws are unconstitutional. Unlike most states, Massachusetts requires ads that name candidates within 90 days of […]
Keloland News: Institute For Free Speech Files Lawsuit Regarding Two South Dakota Ballot Issues (In the News)
By Anna Peters
A national non-profit organization says two measures on South Dakota’s November ballot may violate your First Amendment Rights.
A federal lawsuit says the measures in question are Constitutional Amendment W and Initiated Measure 24. But the Institute for Free Speech says it can’t tell you why the measures would affect your rights without violating state law.
IFS has filed a lawsuit against Attorney General Marty Jackley and Secretary of State Shantel Krebs. It claims South Dakota laws violate the U.S. Constitution by restricting the organization’s rights to publicize views of ballot measures.
It’s asking for permission from a federal judge to publish an analysis of the measures.