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Old January 21, 2010, 01:16 PM   #1
zukiphile
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McCain Feingold crippled

While we often discuss the fine points of 2d Am. advocacy, one of the very general impediments to it was McCain Feingold which prohibited certain 3d party communications within close proximity to an election. Plainly, if the NRA has its speech restricted leading up to an election, the effect of your support is somewhat muted.

The SCOTUS has stricken the 3d party speech prohibitions in this opinion.

http://www.supremecourtus.gov/opinions/09pdf/08-205.pdf

I once thought that mandating disclosure of donors was a good idea, but Thomas makes a powerful argument against it.
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Old January 21, 2010, 02:23 PM   #2
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This is bad, in my opinion. Blankly opening up the doors of campaign finance is tantamount to saying that the wealthiest voice deserves to be loudest. To put it in terms everyone here would appreciate, what happens if Mike Bloomberg decides he wants to spend $10 million on anti-gun ads?
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Old January 21, 2010, 02:33 PM   #3
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Then the NRA can match it, ADB.

Bloomberg won't do that though, because all it does is net him negative publicity with gun owners.

America supports guns. Anti-gun bias angers people and creates distrust towards the origin. Not jut for TFL members, but even for casual shooters or those on the fence. They can see through this stuff.
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Old January 21, 2010, 02:34 PM   #4
Bartholomew Roberts
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Quote:
This is bad, in my opinion. Blankly opening up the doors of campaign finance is tantamount to saying that the wealthiest voice deserves to be loudest. To put it in terms everyone here would appreciate, what happens if Mike Bloomberg decides he wants to spend $10 million on anti-gun ads?
Mike Bloomberg already could afford to do that under the law prior to this ruling. In fact, it was easier for him to do it than it was for the NRA to do it; because corporations could only speak out through PACs, which had tremendously burdensome reporting requirements for every donation and expenditure.

So if you are a fabulously wealthy billionaire funding your own PAC, the reporting requirements aren't that bad - you are the only donor. If you are the NRA funding your own PAC from 4,000,000 $30 donations, they get pretty tedious and expensive quickly.

This is a tremendous step forward, not just for the NRA (who was explicitly named as one of the targets of McCain-Feingold); but for everyone who wants to put their $.02 together with like-minded people and hope to have some of the same influence that guys like Bloomberg, Soros, etc. have.
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Old January 21, 2010, 04:00 PM   #5
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what happens if Mike Bloomberg decides he wants to spend $10 million on anti-gun ads?
From what I understand Mike Bloomberg could spend all the money he wants on campaign ads even before the decision today since he wasn't prohibited as an individual from doing so. The decision cuts both ways since anti gun advocacy groups as well as the NRA can now spend money on campaigns right up until the election. The same cuts both ways for Unions and Corporations. Since I'm not a billionaire and depend on advocacy groups like the NRA to speak for me I think it levels the playing field.

Last edited by arkie2; January 21, 2010 at 04:00 PM. Reason: added quotes
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Old January 21, 2010, 04:05 PM   #6
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Yep,
We are just going to have to vote in politicians with greater honesty and integrity. Lots of luck on that one !!! ...


Be Safe !!!
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Old January 22, 2010, 07:24 AM   #7
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FWIW, I think it was a great ruling. A person, corporation or organization should not be stifled in their free speech. Period!!

McCain/Feingold was one of the most draconian free speech violations I have ever seen in my life. And I ain't young.
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Old January 22, 2010, 07:34 AM   #8
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McCain Feingold didn't really cripple the ability of wealthy individuals to spend their own money advocating for candidates.

What it essentially did was cripple the ability of non wealthy individuals to organize and pool their money for greater effect. I know I have no ability to effectively advocate for my beliefs because I don't have the resources. But everyone gives a little and pretty soon we have enough to effectively advocate.

I agree with this decision. Groups on both sides of the spectrum should be allowed to advocate their causes.
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Old January 22, 2010, 08:11 AM   #9
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I didn't think it was about free speech. I thought it was about paid speech.
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Old January 22, 2010, 08:52 AM   #10
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It isn't a short read. I've only had a chance to scan parts of it.

If you are a fan of the writing of Scalia and his clerks, you will enjoy:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Scalia
Of course the Framers’ personal affection or disaffection for corporationsis relevant only insofar as it can be thought to be reflected in the understood meaning of the text they enacted—not, as the dissent suggests, as a freestanding substitute for that text. But the dissent’s distortion of proper analysis iseven worse than that. Though faced with a constitutionaltext that makes no distinction between types of speakers, the dissent feels no necessity to provide even an isolatedstatement from the founding era to the effect that corporations are not covered, but places the burden on petitionersto bring forward statements showing that they are (“thereis not a scintilla of evidence to support the notion that anyone believed [the First Amendment] would preclude regulatory distinctions based on the corporate form,” post,at 34–35).

Despite the corporation-hating quotations the dissent has dredged up, it is far from clear that by the end of the 18th century corporations were despised. If so, how came there to be so many of them?
The opportunity to write that had to be a reward for other less fun work on other cases.
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Old January 22, 2010, 09:54 AM   #11
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The decision itself, is a breath of fresh air. I never did agree with McCain-Feingold. I always thought it was a crock, that Congress would actually stifle political speech and get away with it (McConnell).

Stare Decisis: - Lat. "to stand by that which is decided." The principal that the precedent decisions are to be followed by the courts. It is essentially, the practice of not reinventing the wheel.

Did anyone else notice the amount of writing used to explain why they were overturning prior precedent? C.J. Roberts opinion was almost entirely devoted to that issue alone. Justice Stevens dissenting opinion used much space explaining why they shouldn't, not so much why the prior decisions were good law.

I don't know how others might look at this, but I find that the battle lines over McDonald to be fully drawn.
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Old January 22, 2010, 10:11 AM   #12
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Quote:
Did anyone else notice the amount of writing used to explain why they were overturning prior precedent?
Yes.

I find this argument supported by any coherent principle only to a very limited degree.

I don't think Stevens can square his position on stare decisis in this case with his vote in Lawrence v. Texas which plainly reversed Hardwick. Roberts was asked his position on stare decisis in his confirmation hearings, and he grasped for a nebulous standard that would afford weight to past precedent without a full endorsement of stare decisis. I think Bork's position as stated in his hearings made more sense: an adherence to stare decisis for a court the recurring issue for which is "Is this constitutional?" doesn't really make sense. If new ideas about how we read the document arise, then we will not be bound by the precedent of, say, Dred Scott.

Roberts and Stevens are both brilliant men, but I see little real point in pretending the court will be bound by any precedent it does not prefer.
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Old January 22, 2010, 01:01 PM   #13
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Quote:
I don't know how others might look at this, but I find that the battle lines over McDonald to be fully drawn.
Yes, I haven't had time to read Citizens United yet; but when the summaries I read indicated how much time was spent explaining stare decisis, I thought "You'll be seeing that cited again."

I need to read at least that portion just so I can see how well Cruikshank and Presser square up with the various Justices take on stare decisis.
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Old January 22, 2010, 01:04 PM   #14
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I'm turning my TV off in october and I'll turn it back on after election day

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Old January 22, 2010, 04:00 PM   #15
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From what I understand Mike Bloomberg could spend all the money he wants on campaign ads even before the decision today since he wasn't prohibited as an individual from doing so.
Ads for himself, yes. This allows for unrestricted spending by any group for any campaign. It basically means that if you've got rich and powerful friends, say Wall Street bankers, you can buy any election by going around the law. This isn't remotely "free speech." It's sale of the government to the highest bidder.
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Old January 22, 2010, 04:22 PM   #16
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Quote:
This allows for unrestricted spending by any group for any campaign. It basically means that if you've got rich and powerful friends, say Wall Street bankers, you can buy any election by going around the law. This isn't remotely "free speech." It's sale of the government to the highest bidder.


Letting people have economically valuable media access in the same way they might choose to spend on any other good seems to honor each individual's choices the most and lead to the most free, i.e. least restricted, exchange.

Let's say this fellow with wealthy friends spent a fortune on an election and won. Would you want your ability to contribute to unseating him to be limited by the government of which he is now a part?
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Old January 22, 2010, 04:26 PM   #17
Bartholomew Roberts
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Ads for himself, yes. This allows for unrestricted spending by any group for any campaign. It basically means that if you've got rich and powerful friends, say Wall Street bankers, you can buy any election by going around the law. This isn't remotely "free speech." It's sale of the government to the highest bidder.
I guess I missed the part where the First Amendment doesn't apply once you have a certain amount of money? The problem with this legislation (as I pointed out earlier) is that it actually solidifies the power of the wealthy. If you have only one donor, it is easier to do the reporting requirements and the wealthy can already afford to form the PACs necessary to evade the restrictions corporations face.

On the flip side, if you are a group of individuals (NRA, for example), your political power is muted. You can no longer speak within 60-days of an election. You have to report every donation from your 4,000,000 members that was used to fund your speech. Hope you don't misfile one of those reports and make yourself a felon in the process of doing 4,000,000 reports a year.

The case involved was a non-profit corporation (as many political lobbying groups, including the NRA, Sierra Club, etc. are) who funded and made a documentary film attacking Hillary Clinton. Because they accepted some corporation contributions in their funding (as well as many individual contributions) - a movie about political candidates was censored by our government and prevented from airing.

How could you possibly equate this outcome with free speech and not want it overturned?

And that doesn't even get into the bizarre outcomes of this law - ABC, NBC, CBS, and Fox News are all corporations; yet all of them got a blanket exception from this law. Wonder if that amplifies their already disconcerting power to shape politics? So what would have happened if AFL-CIO started their own network? Or the NRA (who did exactly that)? Are they exempted media organizations or corporations exploiting a "free speech" loophole?
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Old January 22, 2010, 11:30 PM   #18
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I haven't read the opinion yet but I have always believed McCain-Feingold to be unconstitutional. Most fundamentally, corporations are associations of people. The freedom of association is a part of the First Amendment's right to assemble. Denying the right of speech to a group of people associated to engage in free speech is thus doubly repugnant.

The ability to marshal money and expend it for printing costs, air time, and other modes of speech is inextricably bound to the right of speech itself. I can go downtown and advocate for or against a particular candidate on the courthouse lawn. Only a minuscule portion of the population will ever be able to hear me. The decision by the Supreme Court gives at least some opportunity for associations of individuals to be heard.
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Old January 22, 2010, 11:51 PM   #19
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Quote:
Did anyone else notice the amount of writing used to explain why they were overturning prior precedent?
Yeppers. I think we know who voted to hear McDonald

Quote:
At the same time, stare decisis is neither an “inexorable command,” Lawrence v. Texas, 539 U. S. 558, 577 (2003), nor “a mechanical formula of adherence to the latest decision,” Helvering v. Hallock, 309 U. S. 106, 119 (1940), especially in constitutional cases, see United States v. Scott, 437 U. S. 82, 101 (1978). If it were, segregation would be legal, minimum wage laws would be unconstitutional, and the Government could wiretap ordinary criminal suspects without first obtaining warrants.
A lot of strong wording from him and Scalia on the issue.

The President made a very unfortunate statement in response to this, saying he was going to "get to work immediately with Congress" to come up with a "forceful response." That one sounds very familiar.

Is it 1937 all over again?

What this will do is change the balance of power towards the middle. Traditionally, corporations have only gone to the trouble of forming and funding PAC's when focused on specific, highly partisan issues. As such, candidates from the far right or far left have benefited.

Now that it's easier to advertise for a candidate, we're likely to see a groundswell of support for moderate republicans and conservative democrats.

As mentioned, it also gives the NRA, GOA, SAF and other 2A advocacy groups more latitude.

I've no doubt there will be all sorts of "watchdog" and whistleblower groups on both sides of the fence to keep things in balance. Of course, the MSM is screaming "judicial activism" over the whole thing.
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Old January 22, 2010, 11:59 PM   #20
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I've always understood the First Amendment to, in a narrow interpretation, prevent the incarceration of citizens for political speech, but, in a broad interpretation, to prevent the suppression of the quiet voices by the large, whether through threat of violence or through purchasing power.

I think this ruling strikes a tremendous blow to the last vestiges of the ideals upon which this nation was founded.*


*don't get all cynical and say those ideals are already gone
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Old January 23, 2010, 12:46 AM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zukiphile
I don't think Stevens can square his position on stare decisis in this case with his vote in Lawrence v. Texas which plainly reversed Hardwick.
Certainly not using the logic of United.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Servo
The President made a very unfortunate statement in response to this, saying he was going to "get to work immediately with Congress" to come up with a "forceful response." That one sounds very familiar.
I really hope he does try that. This time around, I doubt it would work and it would seal his fate (and any democrats that were with him), as far as the next election goes. Jimmy Carter, meet Barack Obama!

When the left throws tantrums about this decision, it just affirms that the decision was the right one.
Quote:
Originally Posted by LukeA
I think this ruling strikes a tremendous blow to the last vestiges of the ideals upon which this nation was founded.
How so? Since when does increasing freedom lesson the ideals of liberty?
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Old January 23, 2010, 02:07 AM   #22
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Quote:
I've always understood the First Amendment to, in a narrow interpretation, prevent the incarceration of citizens for political speech, but, in a broad interpretation, to prevent the suppression of the quiet voices by the large, whether through threat of violence or through purchasing power.
It is to prevent the Government from abridging speech. It has nothing to do with individuals outspeaking others whether by volume, decibels or content.
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Old January 23, 2010, 02:27 AM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ADB
Blankly opening up the doors of campaign finance is tantamount to saying that the wealthiest voice deserves to be loudest.
On this I must politely disagree.

Using this singular example, it might appear like the "robber barons" will buy out the government. I feel the reverse condition is far worse.

Frankly, having a disposable income is vilified to advance a more socialist agenda. The "rich" are accused of securing better healthcare, so socialist medicine must become the norm for fairness.

Well, if I'm in a place to buy a commodity, it's my right to choose to purchase better insurance, and not a HDTV or a new Escalade. That's a free choice, I vote with my wallet.

And in the final analysis, I believe 'envy' is at the core. You have to get up everyday and work for most wealth, unless you get fired by NBC, and lots of people would rather complain than set the alarm clock.
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Old January 23, 2010, 05:43 AM   #24
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Quote:
I don't know how others might look at this, but I find that the battle lines over McDonald to be fully drawn.
Agreed. I was hoping for Sotomayor to be a little different but, my guess is, I'm totally wrong.

ETA: My view on McCain/Feingold boils down to this:

Whenever you single out a certain group, and limit their free speech, you are giving groups without such limitations undue influence on the outcome of an election IMHO.

For example, McCain/Feingold exempted media corporations from its limitations. Media corporations are some of the wealthiest and most powerful entities in existence. They gained a HUGE advantage when other, ordinary, corporations/groups were limited in their free speech. (I wonder how the left would have taken McCain/Feingold had the same limitations existed for media corporations?)

It's almost akin to a "T" account in accounting for me. Whenever you limit free speech for one group, you throw the "T" account out of balance (i.e., debits must equal credits). That is unfair and unconstitutional IMHO.

Unless, as Justice Kennedy stated, there is some substantial, realistic government reason for limiting free speech. Clearly, IMHO, there is no substantial justification for this 30 day prohibition on certain groups.

Last edited by RDak; January 23, 2010 at 06:00 AM.
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Old January 23, 2010, 04:00 PM   #25
maestro pistolero
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I think on balance this was a good call. Now let's use it to our advantage in the next election. We can fund corporations like the NRA, and they can make our voice heard.

Posted at Calguns
http://www.calguns.net/calgunforum/s...d.php?t=261850

The Cato Institute chimes in on the matter:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PeGlz...layer_embedded

The information in that video settles it for me. Very compelling.

Last edited by maestro pistolero; January 23, 2010 at 07:20 PM.
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