Wyoming Liberty Group
More discontent emerges out of Wyoming’s Democratic Party caucuses, where Hillary Clinton obtained most of the state delegates even after losing the popular vote to Bernie Sanders. This newest wave of anger and confusion over caucuses and primaries is part of a national trend.
More fretting has begun about just what Merrick Garland would mean for the United States if confirmed as a Supreme Court Justice. But in focusing too strongly on one unlikely nominee, Garland, we may forget what a new Justice may mean for political free speech and association.
January 21st is a special anniversary for the Wyoming Liberty Group. It marks the fifth anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United opinion. The Wyoming Liberty Group played a unique role as friends of the court in that case, helping the Court adopt a much stronger opinion than expected.
Since the Court issued its opinion in Citizens United, it remains one of its most controversial rulings. Even five years later, reform groups clamor to, amazingly, amend the First Amendment, enhance disclosure of political spending, and otherwise “correct” Citizens United. Even moderate Republicans are getting chummy with pre-Citizen United ideas of regulating any speech that moves. This all happens, in large part, because of a deeply rooted confusion about what Citizens United means.
With last week’s tragedy in France, it is important to pause and reflect on the importance of that most inimical of liberties, free speech. It is with fortune that America is not a regular witness to physical retaliation when dissident and unorthodox ideas are communicated. However, our national cultural and legal respect for free speech slowly dwindles. Its demise is not difficult to trace.
With Christmas around the corner, many will be hoping for new golf sets or hunting accessories under their tree. Residents of Maryland will be getting a new “gift” from the federal government—a giant blimp.
In what seems more appropriate for a dystopian novel, Marylanders will be seeing a giant hovering blimp between Washington, DC and Baltimore. Giant hardly captures it; this blimp occupies as much space as 3,500 elephants. Why a giant blimp? Its job is surveillance from all points Northeast to Texas. Talk about eyes in the sky.
As Wyoming and other states consider expanding the reach of campaign finance laws to capture “dark money,” some consideration of what’s happening in Chicago is helpful. Aggressive campaign finance regulations, touted as combatting corruption, allow for easy manipulation of the law.
We learned last week that Rahm Emanuel pulled in $400,000 in campaign contributions to his mayoral campaign due to an obscure part of Illinois campaign finance law. Under Illinois law, when wealthy candidates self-finance their campaigns with $100,000 or more in local races, contribution limits are eliminated for every opponent.
It’s that time of year again. Election Day is more and more like Groundhog Day for campaign finance reformers. Their legend goes like this: if sizeable amounts of money are spent on political speech there will be years of corruption and ruin ahead. Over at the Nation, Zoë Carpenter is complaining that “old white guys” are buying our elections. Others warn of an impending “stealth oligarchy” forming right under our noses. Hogwash.