Category: First Amendment

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Looking Ahead to the Future of ‘Fake News’

The rise of social media has brought multiple, recent charges of forgery and fraud in the dissemination of political attacks. The nature of such attacks is nothing new. Since the dawn of American elections, candidates have seen their words, views, and deeds fraudulently portrayed by political enemies. During the 1972 presidential election, an aide to … Continue Reading

Packingham, Free Speech and Campaign Finance

At first blush, the Supreme Court’s decision in Packingham v. North Carolina seems quite relevant to campaign finance. Echoing its 1997 decision in Reno v. American Civil Liberties Union, the Court said: “Social media offers relatively unlimited, low-cost capacity for communication of all kinds.” That observation suggests a tension between Internet use, and the Court’s … Continue Reading

FEC’s McCain Decision Opens Still Another Path for Independent Expenditures

An overlooked enforcement decision by the Federal Election Commission involving Senator John McCain’s 2010 campaign may put another type of player onto a campaign field that has become increasingly dominated by super PACs, nonprofits and non-candidate groups—other candidates’ campaigns. The FEC announced last Friday that it found no reason to believe that McCain’s campaign broke … Continue Reading

In Independence Institute, a Pro-Disclosure Decision—But With No Disclosure to Follow

It was hardly surprising that the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, in Independence Institute v. FEC, would reject a challenge to McCain-Feingold’s disclosure requirements for “electioneering communications.” These are television or radio ads, sponsored by unregistered groups, that refer to candidates before the voters during the thirty or sixty days before the … Continue Reading

Are the Campaign Finance Laws Too Complicated For the Supreme Court?

Among the clearest conclusions to be drawn from the oral argument in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission is that the Court does not fully understand how current law affects the circumvention of contribution limits.  Justice Breyer opened the argument with the hypothetical case of Candidate Smith, whose forty supporters each open a PAC.  No longer … Continue Reading

High Court Ruling Spells Trouble for 501(c)(3) Restrictions

Yesterday, the Supreme Court released its opinion in Agency for International Development v. Alliance for Open Society International, Inc.  The Court’s opinion in AID v. Alliance spells trouble for the Internal Revenue Service’s longstanding position that a section 501(c)(3) organization is not merely barred from using tax-deductible funds to engage in campaign intervention, but must not … Continue Reading