Friday, June 25, 2010

End Run

Democrats in the House of Representatives, showing contempt for the First Amendment, passed an onerous new disclosure law 219-206, openly trying to make it harder for certain groups to criticize them in upcoming elections. Worse, they've even got viewpoint discrimination built in, exempting groups they like (labor unions) and others that cut deals (the NRA).

I hope wiser heads prevail in the Senate and this lunatic law is stopped. Failing that, I hope there's an injunction as soon as possible if it does pass. It's not uncommon with this sort of law for Congress to include an expedited appeals procedure so the Supreme Court can speak on its constitutionality, but not this time. The Reps who supported it (you know, the ones who take that oath of office to uphold the Constitution) probably know it won't pass muster, but will be quite happy to be protected from attacks for a few years while it works it way to the top.


Blogger QueensGuy said...

It really does just get worse the more you read:

"The bill would require that most groups running independent ads to disclose their top five donors. Companies with government contracts worth more than $10 million, along with corporations receiving federal bailout money, would be barred from spending on independent political activity.

The measure also would ban companies with more than 20% foreign ownership from funding the campaign ads.

Another provision, added Thursday at the urging of Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, would bar BP, the oil giant at the center of the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, and other companies with federal leases to drill in the Outer Continental Shelf from unlimited spending on political activity."

It's so egregiously unconstitutional that every judge who hears it should just write a quick opinion and expedite the appeal.

6:26 AM, June 25, 2010  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why is it unconstitutional to bar companies with contracts from spending on independent political activity? I suppose I agree it's unpleasant, maybe, but is it any different than the states taking money subject to rules that come with it? They always have the option of not taking the money.

SWMBCg, etc.

p.s. What do you think of political subdivisions and agencies hiring lobbyists and running public relations campaigns?

7:34 AM, June 25, 2010  
Anonymous Denver Guy said...

I think the clearly unconstitutional part of this is tiered disclosure requirements. How can you possibly draw a rational basis for burdening the speech of some speakers more than others based on size and length of existence of the speakers?

But disclosure requirements themselves are probably constitutional in any number of situations. I believe Citizen's United confirmed that, and the S.Ct just this week said disclosure of the names of petition signers is not an unconstitutional breach of privacy rights or free speech. It is a fundamental question whether the right of free speech includes a right of anonymous speech. Absent evidence that disclosure amounts to censure, it does not.

8:35 AM, June 25, 2010  
Blogger LAGuy said...

Denver Guy, how about a demand that 85% of the time of your ad be taken up explaining what your company does? You can only burden speech so much, and the intent of this law is a challenge to people who dare and try to speak, not simpy to help inform the public.

I was going to discuss the Supreme Court case (which I have trouble with), but I don't think it's especially relevant to this law.

9:51 AM, June 25, 2010  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't understand how you could have a secret petition anyway. If you're petitioning the government, you don't get to put on one of those sexy SWAT masks.

Now, I do understand you could write a check for a million dollars and, or an Obama Trillion, and that ought to be perfectly private (although it isn't, I suspect).

SWMBCg, etc.

2:00 PM, June 25, 2010  
Blogger QueensGuy said...

CG, there's a unique pernicious possible effect of barring speech from companies with government contracts. If you see the government doing something wrong as part of your business with them, you either can tell the public, or take the money. That's a problem that doesn't exist with funding mandates to states.

p.s. my word verification is "track" and I think we'd better assume they do.

8:40 AM, June 26, 2010  

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