Thursday, October 31, 2013

State courts cracking down on overreaching campaign finance laws

George Will has a column in the Washington Post, p. A17, this Halloween, “State courts are restoring free speech”.  He is specifically talking about state laws that inhibit citizens’ use of their own money to influence the outcome of state and local elections, including public policy or state constitution referendums.  The link is here
Let’s go back for a moment to the Ciitizen’s United v. Federal Election Commission case, decided in 2010, with the opinion summary here.  The Court wrote “The First Amendment does not permit laws that force speakers to retain a campaign finance attorney, conduct demographic marketing research, or seek declaratory rulings before discussing the most salient political issues of the day.” See more about the CU group in my review of “Hillary, the Movie”, March 25, 2009 on the Movies blog.
The op-ed discusses cases in Mississippi and Arizona.  The Mississippi case had involved a desire of voters to weak the state’s power of eminent domain. 
I can recall back in 2005 the debate over whether campaign finance reform could affect ordinary bloggers.  In October 2005, the Washington Times penned an editorial predicting that people would have to hire lawyers to start blogs.  That led to a major incident when I was substitute teaching that is described here July 27, 2007.  

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