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Editorial: Political speech or corruption?

 Free Speech  Comments Off on Editorial: Political speech or corruption?
Apr 062015

By Editorial Board April 5 at 6:53 PM

IN THE Supreme Courts landmark 2010 case Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission , the court declared that corporate independent political expenditures are protected free speech under the First Amendment and cannot be constrained. The court wrestled with the possibility that unlimited spending might have a corrupting influence on politics, but in the end it decided that free speech was the overriding goal and that as long as the expenditures were independent of candidates, and transparent, they would not increase corruption. The campaign cycles since then have been increasingly awash in this spending, much of it going to super PACs.

Now comes a disturbing set of facts that call into question the courts logic and conclusions about corruption. The April 1 indictment of Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) on bribery charges alleges a chronology that should worry everyone who cares about integrity in national politics. According to the indictment, a wealthy Florida ophthalmologist, Salomon Melgen, who was seeking Mr. Menendezs support on matters before the U.S. government, wrote two checks for $300,000 each in 2012 to the Senate Majority PAC, a super PAC devoted to supporting the election of Senate Democrats.

The donations were earmarked for use in the senators state of New Jersey. The senator was the only Democrat running for the Senate then in New Jersey. The doctor handed over one of the checks to a close friend of Mr. Menendez at the senators annual fundraiser. Is this what the court envisioned as independent?

The super PAC has said it acted within the law. It will be up to a jury to decide whether the doctor and the senator engaged in corruption. But the facts asserted in the indictment are sufficient to call into question the courts underlying thinking in Citizens United. The court declared that independent expenditures, including those made by corporations, do not give rise to corruption or the appearance of corruption. The court added that there is only scant evidence that independent expenditures even ingratiate.

In this case, the money may have earned the doctor more than just gratitude. The indictment describes a flurry of e-mails, calls and requests for meetings by the senator on behalf of the Florida doctor. The senator aimed his efforts at cabinet members, regulators and fellow senators. There is no evidence of a direct quid pro quo, but the timing is suspicious. For example, on June 1, 2012, the doctor issued a $300,000 check, through his company, to the super PAC, earmarked for New Jersey politicking. On June 7, the senator met with the acting administrator of the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to advocate for a resolution of a Medicare billing dispute involving the doctor to the tune of nearly $9 million. Just coincidence?

Whats at stake here is more than just one case. The Supreme Court has created an environment pregnant with possibility for corruption. The principles of independent expenditure are being routinely subverted. The reality of corrupt politics money for favors is growing more evident by the day.

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Editorial: Political speech or corruption?

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WESLEY PRUDEN: Democrats are ready for Hillary Clinton, but is Hillary ready?

 Illuminati  Comments Off on WESLEY PRUDEN: Democrats are ready for Hillary Clinton, but is Hillary ready?
Mar 312015


The Syndicate convened the Bilderberg Group, the Council on Foreign Relations, the Illuminati and the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy over the weekend at a secret hideaway in downtown Shangri-la to talk about themes for the 2016 campaign.

Were all familiar with the work of the Syndicate, though few know whos in it. The Syndicate controls everything: Nothing is too small to escape Syndicate attention. Perhaps youre looking for a friends house late on a dark and rainy night on Coffee Pot Lane, and you remember that the house is definitely on the south side of the street. Frustration expands, temper grows short, and suddenly there it is but on the north side of the street. You werent wrong. The Syndicate, having heard you were coming, moved the house. During the night theyll put it back.

The Syndicate picks presidents, but calls in other smaller but powerful cartels to help. Next year the chosen Democrat is Hillary Clinton. Theres not yet a chosen Republican, though the Bilderberg Group and the Council on Foreign Relations are rooting for Jeb Bush. The Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy likes Ted Cruz. No final decision on candidates yet, but the campaign themes were locked in by Sunday night when everybody went home:

Vote for Hillary: She aint much but shes all weve got. The Republican candidate will stick with the tried and sometimes true: Vote Republican: Were not as bad as you think.

Thats the kind of year 2016 is shaping up to be. Nobody yet figures to make anyone throw his hat in the air, which is logical since no one wears a hat any more. (Women were nuts to give up hats and take up ugly shoes.) Recycling is not yet for everybody, but it works in presidential politics.

Martin OMalley, the former Democratic governor of Maryland who is trying to put his foot in the water if he can find the lake, says what a lot of people in both parties are thinking: In a nation of 330 million, give or take, why is it given to only two families to furnish candidates for president? I think that our country always benefits from new leadership and new perspectives, Mr. OMalley tells ABC News. Lets be honest here. The presidency is not some crown to be passed between two families. It is an awesome and sacred trust, to be earned, and exercised, on behalf of the American people.

Given the givens, Hillary may still be the inevitable Democrat, but she doesnt look as inevitable as she did only a few weeks ago. Within the space of a single week, The Washington Post and The New York Times, loyal as always to Democratic interests, published cautions to the party, The Post about how Democrats are alarmed about Hillarys readiness for a campaign and The New York Times about how many Democrats are frightened that they have nobody but Hillary. Theyre ready for Hillary but Hillarys not ready to run. And where is Bubba?

How could this happen to such a nice party as the Democrats, usually with prospective candidates bumping into each other on the way to the convention. They used to say in the Solid South that Democratic fights were like cat fights and fights in Baptist churches, resulting only in more Democrats, more Baptists and more cats. Now the South is solid for the Republicans, and next year the Democrats are acting like proper Republicans, talking about choosing a candidate by inheritance.

A new CBS News poll finds that 8 of 10 Democrats want Hillary to run, and 8 of 10 want someone to challenge her in the primaries. Its a lot to ask of someone to make a suicide run, but its true that sending Hillary to battle untested, with neither battle scars nor battle stars is an invitation to disappointment on Election Day.

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WESLEY PRUDEN: Democrats are ready for Hillary Clinton, but is Hillary ready?

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Governor, deputy to face-off in Riau election

 Islands  Comments Off on Governor, deputy to face-off in Riau election
Mar 312015

The Riau Islands General Elections Commission (KPUD) is ready to hold a gubernatorial election, with the incumbent governor and deputy governor set to battle it out to leader the province.

Riau Islands KPUD head Said Sirajuddin said the election, held alongside other elections in seven regencies and mayoralties in October, was estimated to cost Rp 89 billion (S$9.36 million), less than the earlier estimate of Rp 121 billion.

“The budget is smaller because based on the new electoral law, an election is held in a single round, so it costs less,” Sirajuddin told The Jakarta Post on Monday.

According to him, the election’s stages had yet to be arranged because the General Elections Commission (KPU) was still discussing its regulations (PKPUs) with the House of Representatives’ Commission II overseeing domestic governance on Tuesday.

“We’re still waiting for the PKPU, which will be discussed by the KPU and Commission II tomorrow. We will arrange the election phases after the new PKPUs have been decided, including the election budget,” said Sirajuddin.

According to him, based on the number of ballots obtained in the 2014 legislative election, only the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) can nominate its candidates for governor and deputy governor for the 2015-2020 period without forming a coalition.

He added that the number of voters in the Riau Islands in the 2014 legislative election was 1.3 million, but his commission would recount the number of voters after the KPU issued the PKPU on simultaneous elections.

More than 50 per cent of eligible voters are found in Batam, while the rest are in Bintan, Karimun, Tanjungpinang, Natuna, Anambas and Lingga.

Meanwhile, Governor Muhammad Sani has declared he will team up with Batam Mayor Ahmad Dahlan to contest the election against Deputy Governor Soerya Respationo, as both vie for the gubernatorial seat for the 2015-2020 term.

Sani, a former bureaucrat and member of the Golkar Party Riau Islands supervisory board, announced Dahlan, who is also the Democratic Party’s Batam Regional Executive Board chairman, as his running mate on Feb. 19.

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Democrats Caught Up In Controversial Indiana Religious Freedom Law

 Freedom  Comments Off on Democrats Caught Up In Controversial Indiana Religious Freedom Law
Mar 292015

TIME Politics 2016 Election Democrats Caught Up In Controversial Indiana Religious Freedom Law Michael ConroyAP Indiana Gov. Mike Pence announces that the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services has approved the state’s waiver request for the plan his administration calls HIP 2.0, during a speech in Indianapolis. Obama, Clinton have backed similar religious freedom bills.

Indianas new religious freedom law, which has prompted calls for a state boycott because it might permit discrimination against gays and lesbians, was made law by a Republican governor and Republican legislature. But the controversy could also ensnare leading Democrats like President Barack Obama, Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and New York Sen. Chuck Schumer, who previously supported bills with similar effects years ago.

The Religious Freedom Restoration Act was signed into federal law by President Bill Clinton more than 20 years ago, said Indiana Gov. Mike Pence on ABCs This Week, defending his states actions by pointing to similar federal legislation. Indiana properly brought the same version that then state senator Barack Obama voted for in Illinois before our legislature.

The Indiana law prohibits the state from enacting statues that substantially burden a persons ability to follow his or her religious beliefs. Critics argue it could be used to allow businesses to discriminate against gay and lesbian Americans in the state, prompting criticism from executives at companies like Apple, and the NCAA, which will host the mens Final Four basketball tournament in Indianapolis next weekend.

Democrats, including Hillary Clinton and aides to President Obama have also criticized the law. Sad this new Indiana law can happen in America today. We shouldnt discriminate against ppl bc of who they love, Clinton tweeted over the weekend.

But the Indiana law was modeled on the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) introduced by then-Rep. Chuck Schumer, who is now a senior Democratic Senator from New York, and signed into law in 1993 by then-President Bill Clinton. The bill passed the U.S. Senate by a vote on 97 to 3 in 1993. The power of God is such that even in the legislative process, miracles can happen, President Clinton joked at the time of the bipartisan consensus.

Unlike the federal law which is focused on restricting government action to protect religious freedom, the Indiana version has a broader scope, potentially giving new rights to claim religious beliefs for private parties, like wedding cake vendors, who do not want to serve gay couples.

As an Illinois State Senator in 1998, Obama also voted in favor of a version of the new Indiana law. Years after that law passed, Illinois passed an explicit ban on discrimination based on sexual orientation, making clear that the law could not be used to deny service between private parties. That provision is not on the books in Indiana.

Despite weighing in on other controversial legislation in states, including this months passage of an anti-union bill in Wisconsin, Obama has not commented on the Indiana law, leaving his aides to critique it.

Look, if you have to go back two decades to try to justify something you are doing today, it may raise some questions about the wisdom of what youre doing, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Sunday on ABCs This Week. Obama ducked a question on the Indiana law Saturday from reporters before departing on a two-day golf vacation to Florida.

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No free elections without freedom

 Freedom  Comments Off on No free elections without freedom
Mar 222015

It is universally acknowledged that freedom of expression is a fundamental freedom which every liberal democratic polity dearly upholds. In keeping up with this liberal ideal, the Cambodian Constitution solemnly enshrines freedom of expression in its Article 41. Far too often, however, the essence of this fundamental freedom is not well understood, likely due to the lack of an adequate understanding of its raison dtre in the first place.

Since freedom of expression is a concept originating from the West, I will utilise the theory on such freedom commonly found, for instance, in the American tradition of constitutional law. This modern legal tradition expounds four simple reasons why such freedom must exist and be practiced.

First, this freedom would generate a sense self-governance for the people. Free speech is vital in a true democracy because voters can best influence governments choice of policies through free speech and can most fittingly evaluate candidates capabilities through unrestricted discussion about their ideas and deeds. In other words, in a liberal democracy, through freedom of expression it is the people themselves who govern public affairs. This ought to be so as Cambodian Constitution solemnly stipulates that all powers emanate from the people (Article 51). Representative democracy does not mean that people cease to speak. The ability to criticise government is the very core of a liberal democracy, which Cambodian political system clearly aspires to.

Second, free speech also functions as a fact-finding mechanism through which the real truth would be easy to discover. This is because open discussions often lead to find out what is right and what is wrong. There is hardly any better alternative. No reasonable citizen would ever say that government is the only organ able to determine what is true or false. Unless we forget, Cambodian Constitution vividly embraces the concept of fact-finding by the people, for instance, through National Congress Samach Cheat (Art 147) at which ordinary people would have a direct say on which policies have gone well or gone wild. Thus, the concept of empowering direct fact-finding by the people is not alien to our Constitutional system.

The third argument in favour of freedom of expression resides in its gratification of human self-identity. It is only through free speech that one person may discover her own personhood. Simply put, expressing ideas is how that person would define herself.

Civil society organisations (CSOs) represent voice of the people and have been playing very important role in democratic process including running voter education programs, organising debates and forums for all contesting political parties to improve level playing field, conducting polling and survey, monitoring elections and expressing independent opinions through making statements and giving comments, etc.

However, the current draft law on the Amendments to the Law on the Election of Members of the National Assembly (Article 84) intentionally restricts freedom and rights of CSOs to conduct the above activities, preventing CSOs from delivering civic education which could help people make a more informed decisions. Without the work of the civil society, voters will have to be content with politicised arguments of contenders.

Interestingly, the same law allows the officials of the armed forces and the judiciary to conduct political activities and campaigns during non-working hours or when they are not on official duties. In many democratic countries these officials are required to be neutral and prohibited from political activities and campaigns because they are influential and are given election related duties at various stages of the electoral process. It should also be noted that while the law restricts CSOs, it does not restrict the private sector from engaging in political activities.

Fourthly, when a government does not allow free speech, it certainly does not tolerate criticism. And tolerance, as much in Buddhism as it is in other forms of religion, is a basic value in a free society.

Cambodian Constitution unequivocally declares that Buddhism is the religion of the country (Article 43), thereby, making tolerance a basic core value in Cambodian society. Free speech ought to result from this value.

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Nato head tells David Cameron: We are counting on your leadership

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Mar 132015

We appreciate the leadership that the UK shows in the Alliance, and we count on leadership also in the future, Mr Stoltenberg said.

In the same press release, Nato said he would be meeting Michael Fallon to ensure important decisions from the Wales summit last year were being implemented.

A central outcome of the summit was a promise for all European allies to recommit to spending 2 per cent of their GDP on defence a long-standing obligation.

At the time the Prime Minister called on those countries below the mark to meet the obligation within a decade and signed a pledge saying Britain would aim to continue to hit the 2 per cent mark.

In a separate development, Mr Cameron appeared to admit the difficulty in justifying why a government should protect aid spending during austerity while not ring-fencing defence.

Pushed by the Financial Times on how the Prime Minister could say defence was more about deployability of forces than raw spending numbers while enshrining legal aid spending in law, Mr Cameron reportedly said: Its a fair point.

No 10 spokesperson said of the meeting between Mr Cameron and Mr Stoltenberg: The Prime Minister explained that the UK would continue to meet the 2 per cent target this financial year and next, but decisions beyond this would be made in the next Spending Review.

The Secretary General said he appreciated the UKs leadership within the Alliance and that the Government was using its defence spending to focus on investment in new capabilities.”

Last month two former Nato heads warned that Mr Cameron will embolden Mr Putin and Islamic terrorists if he reneges on a commitment to spend two per cent of GDP on defence.

Anders Fogh Rasmussen, who left the post as Nato general secretary last year, and his predecessor Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said cutting defence after the election would strength Britains enemies.

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Can the Senates new Republicans usher in NSA surveillance reform?

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Feb 232015

With the snow-capped Montana mountains behind him, flannel-clad Steve Daines blasted the National Security Agencys sweeping surveillance practices. I stood up to the Washington establishment in support of [a bill] to stop the NSA from collecting the records of innocent Americans, he said. Big government can take away our freedoms.

That was Mr. Daines campaign ad. And the message clearly resonated Daines, a former House representative from Montana, won his election to the Senate.

Security and privacy became hot-button issues in political races across the country after former NSA contractor Edward Snowden disclosed the spy agencys collection of millions of Americans call records. With several national polls showing Americans support curbing the controversial program, many wannabe senators, like Daines, spoke out about the need to protect civil liberties.

Now, 13 new senators are here in Washington and their votes will be crucial in the upcoming debates over surveillance reform.

Congress failed to pass a reform bill last year, despite President Obamas urging and recommendations from government-appointed privacy and civil liberties boards to end the domestic call record bulk collection program. In a Republican-controlled Congress, however, the politics of privacy are even more complex.

After the November elections, incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell encouraged his Republican colleagues to oppose advancing the USA Freedom Act because it could hurt the fight against terrorism. With the threat from the Islamic State in the news, the vote to debate the surveillance reform bill fell short by just two votes. This time around, privacy advocates are warily watching the fresh crop of senators all Republican but one.

If they stay consistent with their past pro-privacy positions, they could very well tip the precarious balance in the upper chamber in favor of reform.

Theres a pretty short list of issues where our phones start ringing off the hook here, Daines told Passcode. Guns, he says, is a key one and when you start looking at surveillance and the federal government overreach, our phone really starts ringing.

This year, the pressures on: A key provision of the Patriot Act the NSA says provides the legal authority for the domestic spying program is set to sunset in June.

Its something the Republican Party is going to have to debate, says Mark Jaycox, legislative analyst for the Electronic Frontier Foundation. The question is going to be, can new members convince the leadership that these authorities need to be reformed?

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'Duck Dynasty' star to win first amendment award

 Misc  Comments Off on 'Duck Dynasty' star to win first amendment award
Feb 182015

Tuesday, February 17, 2015 – 10:43am

“Duck Dynasty” Star Phil Robertson will receive Citizens United’s first amendment award at the Conservative Political Action Conference, known as CPAC, next weekend in Maryland.

The controversial television star who was suspended for controversial remarks in 2013 has become a hero to conservatives supporting freedom of speech.

“In a time where conservative Christians are under attack by the media and pop culture, Phil Robertson continues to courageously stand by Truth and his convictions,” said David N. Bossie, President of Citizens United in a release. “I can think of no better person to present the “Andrew Breitbart Defender of the First Amendment Award” to than Mr. Phil Robertson.”

The award is named after Breitbart, former editor of the eponymous site who passed away in 2012. Conservative Radio star Mark Levin received the award last year.

Robertson, a devout Christian, was briefly suspended from the show for remarks he made about homosexuality in GQ magazine.

“It seems like, to me, a vagina—as a man—would be more desirable than a man’s anus. That’s just me. I’m just thinking: There’s more there! She’s got more to offer,” he said. “I mean, come on, dudes! You know what I’m saying? But hey, sin: It’s not logical, my man. It’s just not logical.”

After public protest, A&E Networks lifted the ban and let Robertson continue filming the highly successful show based on their lives in Louisiana.

CNN also learned Citizens United’s next Freedom Summit will be held in South Carolina this spring. After the success of their Iowa Summit in January, which launched Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s current lead in some polls, the group is aiming to impact the first-in-the-South primary state as well.

The group came into the mainstream during the 2010 Supreme Court case, Citizens United vs. Federal Election Committee, which gave way to the creation of Super Pacs, groups that can take unlimited donations independent of a political candidate or party.

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10 Tax Havens Face Blacklist Threat From Labour – Video

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Feb 102015

10 Tax Havens Face Blacklist Threat From Labour
Ed Miliband writes to leaders of overseas territories warning them he will not tolerate tax avoidance if Labour wins the election. Ed Miliband writes to lead…

By: LamontagneCalabrese

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Tax Havens Face Blacklisting Threat From Labour – Video

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Feb 082015

Tax Havens Face Blacklisting Threat From Labour
Ed Miliband writes to leaders of overseas territories warning them he will not tolerate tax avoidance if Labour wins the election. Ed Miliband writes to lead…

By: LamontagneCalabrese

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Iowa Freedom Summit Kicks Off With Republican Star Power

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Jan 242015

DES MOINES, Iowa The Republican race for the White House in 2016 starts here. At least that’s what Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, said Saturday morning as he kicked off the Iowa Freedom Summit, a GOP star-powered event hosting nearly two-dozen speakers and possible presidential contenders. King, who’s co-hosting with the conservative group Citizens United, said he believes the next country’s president will be speaking from the summit’s stage.

This “cattle call” of potential candidates is the unofficial precursor to the Iowa caucus season, which begins Feb. 1, 2016. Twenty-three speakers are on the Iowa Freedom Summit program 10 of whom are being eyed for the White House nod in 2016, including Ben Carson, Scott Walker, Rick Santorum, Ted Cruz, Carly Fiorina, Rick Perry, Chris Christie, Mike Huckabee, Donald Trump and Sarah Palin. Other potential 2016 contenders who were invited but are not attending include Jeb Bush, Mitt Romney, Bobby Jindal, Rand Paul and Marco Rubio.

King called for the election of a “full-spectrum constitutional conservative, who makes the pledge to America … to restore that separation of powers between the legislative, executive and judicial branches of government.” He cited Obamacare as an example of President Barack Obama overreaching his authority, adding that conservatives must “defend this Constitution, and we must restore the rule of law.”

King, the social conservative leader from the Hawkeye State, is also an outspoken opponent of a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants and just this week at the State of the Union claimed first lady Michelle Obama was sitting with a “deportable.” The Obamas had invited a so-called DREAMer, an undocumented immigrant who came to the U.S. as a child.

Alex Moe and Elisha Fieldstadt

First published January 24 2015, 10:45 AM

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News@10: NSA Dasuki Advocates Election 2015 Postponement 22/01/15 Pt.1 – Video

 NSA  Comments Off on News@10: NSA Dasuki Advocates Election 2015 Postponement 22/01/15 Pt.1 – Video
Jan 232015

News@10: NSA Dasuki Advocates Election 2015 Postponement 22/01/15 Pt.1
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The First Amendment and campaign solicitations: In Plain English

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Jan 202015

Posted Tue, January 20th, 2015 7:46 am by Amy Howe

In 2009, Lanell Williams-Yulee sent out a letter announcing that she was running for county court judge in Hillsborough County, Florida. The letter from the Tampa lawyer, which was also posted on her campaign website, asked for contributions of as much as five hundred dollars to fund her campaign.

As fundraising appeals go, the mass mailing was a flop: it did not result in any campaign contributions. But it did draw the attention of the Florida Bar, the organization responsible for (among other things) disciplining lawyers in the state. The bar filed a complaint charging that Williams-Yulee had violated a rule that prohibits candidates for judgeships from personally soliciting campaign funds including through mass mailings like the one that Williams-Yulee had sent to would-be donors.

The Florida Supreme Court, the ultimate arbiter of attorney discipline in that state, rejected Williams-Yulees argument that the Florida rule prohibiting her from soliciting campaign contributions violated the First Amendment. Instead, it publicly reprimanded her for violating the rule and ordered her to pay for the costs of the disciplinary proceeding approximately $1800.Williams-Yulee may find a more receptive audience for her First Amendment argument at the U.S. Supreme Court, which will hear her case today. She contends that the rule cannot pass the very difficult legal test known as strict scrutiny that courts apply to laws or policies that prohibit speech based on its content. She acknowledges that one of the purposes of the rule preventing favoritism and corruption could provide the kind of compelling government interest that might allow the rule to pass constitutional muster. However, she challenges the Florida Bars contention that the rule is also necessary because the government has a strong interest in preventing the appearance of bias and corruption, suggesting that such a standard is too vague.

But in any event, she adds, the Supreme Court doesnt need to decide whether preventing the appearance of corruption and bias is a compelling interest because the rule cant pass the second part of the strict scrutiny test. That prong of the test looks at whether a restriction on speech is narrowly tailored, which means that it carefully targets only the speech that needs to be restricted to accomplish its purpose no more, no less. In some ways, Williams-Yulee argues, the rule doesnt target enough speech. For example, it still allows a prospective judge to know who has contributed to her campaign, and therefore still creates the opportunity for bias, and it allows candidates to ask individuals to support their campaigns in other ways, such as by donating volunteer services instead of money. At the same time, she continues, the rule prohibits too much speech: it even applies to impersonal communications like mass mailings, website postings, and speeches to large groups, none of which are likely to create the impression that a recipient, reader, or listener must choose between making a campaign contribution or receiving less favorable treatment in future court proceedings. And, she concludes, the government has other options such as requiring a judge to recuse herself from proceedings involving a contributor or limiting campaign contributions that can combat judicial bias and corruption without restricting speech.

For its part, the Florida Bar paints a very different picture of the rule as an unremarkable and narrow restriction necessary to prevent both corruption and the appearance of corruption. The bar emphasizes not only that there is abundant evidence that the public perceives campaign contributions to judicial candidates as having an undue influence on judges decisions, but also that many state judges themselves have indicated that campaign contributions may affect their rulings. And in particular, the bar suggests, the possibility for corruption or the appearance thereof arises from the direct link between the contributor and the candidate for a judgeship; it is that link, the bar maintains, that the rule prohibiting personal solicitation of campaign contributions targets. And therefore, the bar continues, it doesnt matter that a candidate for a judgeship can eventually learn who has contributed to her campaign. It also doesnt matter, the bar contends, that a would-be judge can personally ask someone to contribute his time to the campaign: giving money, the bar suggests, speaks louder than holding signs and licking envelopes. All that the rule does, the bar concludes, is prevent a candidate for a judgeship from personally soliciting contributions. It does not otherwise restrict what she can say, and she can still raise campaign funds through a committee.

Those who believe that judges should not be elected at all (a group that includes retired Justice Sandra Day OConnor) will be watching this case closely. In their view, its bad enough that judges have to raise money for their campaigns, but allowing judges and candidates for judgeships to personally solicit campaign contributions will increase the possibility of favoritism in decision making.

The case could be even more significant, though, as the latest chapter in the Roberts Courts campaign-finance jurisprudence. Last year, in a case called McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, the Court ruled that Congress cannot put overall caps known as aggregate limits on the amount that someone can contribute to candidates for federal offices, political parties, and political action committees. Although a ruling for Williams-Yulee might be an incremental step toward the further deregulation of the campaign-finance system, it would be a step nonetheless. Well know more about where the Court might be headed in this case after todays arguments.

Posted in Williams-Yulee v. The Florida Bar, Featured, Merits Cases

Recommended Citation: Amy Howe, The First Amendment and campaign solicitations: In Plain English, SCOTUSblog (Jan. 20, 2015, 7:46 AM),

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Judicial Elections and the First Amendment: Williams-Yulee v. The Florida Bar

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Jan 092015

On January 20, the U.S. Supreme Court will be hearing oral arguments in Lanell Williams-Yulee v. The Florida Bar. At issue is whether a ban on solicitation of campaign donations by judicial candidates in state elections in Florida violates the First Amendment rights of the candidates. Does Florida have a compelling interest in imposing such a ban to preserve the appearance of impartiality of its judges? Is it necessary to ensure judicial independence and maintain public confidence in the judicial system? Does this ban on solicitation violate the First Amendment rights of candidates to engage in political speech and political activity? Does the soliciting of campaign donations involve core political speech? In a post-argument briefing, two First Amendment experts who filed amicus briefs in the case, along with the former Chief Justice of the Indiana Supreme Court, will discuss these issues as well as the oral arguments conducted that morning before the Supreme Court. Moderating the panel will be a former FEC commissioner.

James Bopp, Jr. General Counsel, The James Madison Center for Free Speech

Robert Corn-Revere Partner, Davis Wright Tremaine

Justice Randall T. Shepard Former Chief Justice, Indiana Supreme Court

Manager, Election Law Reform Initiative and Senior Legal Fellow Read More

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MSW's Top 7 Stories of 2014

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Dec 312014

2014 was quite a year for those of us who write about the Catholic Church. Looking back at the most important stories of the year, many of them are tied in with Pope Francis but in this column, I will confine my retrospective to events in the United States. So, here are the top stories of the year, ranked in no particular order.

1) Reactions to Pope Francis continued to fascinate. The pope continued to demonstrate wide appeal to almost all Catholics in the U.S. Whatever their ideological and political particularities, people respond to this man in large part because he is so recognizably human, and not afraid to be seen as such.

What I termed last year Pope Francis Derangement Syndrome largely abated. Yes, John Zmirak denied there is any such thing as a papal magisterium, and some well-heeled Catholics tried to reduce the popes clarion calls for social justice to an appeal for personal charity. A few continued to question the legitimacy of his election. But, by and large, the derangement stopped. Sadly, some commentators and some clerics continue to try and parse the popes words, emptying them of their obvious meaning and replacing them with their own perspectives. Indeed, I think one of the things that will warrant further attention in the year ahead is the plain spoken way this pope communicates. In an age riddled with jargon and faux-expertise, when elites in politics and the academy are so far removed from the daily concerns of most people they talk like aliens or with a politically correct vacuity, the popes ability to speak from his heart in language all can understand may be one of the most counter-cultural things about him.

Which leads to another aspect of the reaction to him: The divide within the left between those most concerned about sexual issues and those most concerned about social justice issues continued to grow. Many in the first camp object to the way the pope speaks about women. I prefer his homey metaphors, even when they sound like clunkers, to any PC-approved speech. He speaks like a 78-year old Argentine because he is a 78-year old Argentine. And, the focus on his metaphors involving gender roles can too easily keep us from listening to what he is trying to say. This is related to a consistent criticism I have of the Catholic Left: They approach the teachings of the Church they dislike only with a desire to change them, rarely with the disposition to discover what God, through the Church, may be trying to tell us. All of us have experienced difficult moments or tasks from which we grew in ways we never would have otherwise, yet this knowledge is quickly forgotten by ideologues of all stripes who approach Church teachings the way a child approaches play-do. I think the left, not just the right, has to do a better job listening to what t he Holy Father has to say about humility.

2) The appointment of +Blase Cupich as the ninth Archbishop of Chicago is an enormous event in the life of the Church in this country. Here is a born leader, unafraid to be bold or to swim against the current, a brilliant mind and a thoroughly competent administrator, elevated to one of the most important dioceses in the country. Ad extra, +Cupich was one of the few bishops to have diocesan and Catholic Charities staff trained as navigators for the Affordable Care Act. Ad intra, he had one of the most robust consultations on family issues in advance of the synod. He is a dynamo. As well, if in New York, the rise of financial titans and media stars has taken some, actually a lot, of the Churchs cultural juice once embodied in the person of the Cardinal-Archbishop of that city, in Chicago, it is still the mayor and the archbishop who dominate the socio-cultural landscape. And, if the local Chicago media is any guide, +Cupich has taken the city by storm.

The appointment is significant in its own right. If the pope had called me and asked who should go to Chicago, I would have put +Cupichs name at the top of my terna. Of course, the pope did not call me, but he did consult widely and whomever he consulted came up with +Cupichs name. The pope surely knew this would probably be the most important appointment he makes in the U.S. Church and he found the right guy. I suspect it also shows the influence of Washingtons Cardinal Donald Wuerl and Bostons Cardinal Sean OMalley, both of whom have been out front of the rest of the brethren in their enthusiasm for Pope Francis and whose advice to the pope was likely taken. The fact that the pope got this right bodes well for other matters, for example, the planning of his trip to the U.S. next September. He will not let his appearances be turned into an opportunity to blast the Obama administration, which is certainly what some would have liked.

+Cupich has extensive experience in the USCCB, holding a variety of positions on different committees over the years. At times in its history, the leadership of the USCCB came almost entirely from the great Midwestern dioceses: Cincinnati, Cleveland, Detroit, Chicago, St. Louis and St. Paul. They were often a bulwark of collegiality against the more authoritarian cardinalatial sees in the Northeast. Look for +Cupich to reinvigorate the USCCB and help pull it back from the culture war limb it has climbed out on.

3) At the end of last year, Pope Francis removed Cardinals Raymond Burke and Justin Rigali from the Congregation of Bishops, and replaced them with Cardinal Wuerl. For a variety of reasons, most of the attention focused on the removal of Cardinal Burke, but the end of the +Rigali-era may be the most important development in the U.S. Church.

The two cardinals, especially +Rigali, embody the clerical mindset that has crippled the Church, turned it into what Pope Francis calls a self-referential Church, tone deaf at times, unwelcoming, joyless. And, together, these former archbishops of St. Louis have spread their influence far and wide throughout the U.S. Church. Bishop Robert Finn, who should have resigned long ago, is a creation of the two. Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone was a student of +Burkes and a close friend. +Rigali promoted both +Fabian Bruskewitz, who thumbed his nose at the Dallas Charter for a decade, and Bishop Thomas Olmsted, who announced the removal of the designation Catholic from a local hospital in a statement that did not once mention the Lord Jesus nor quote from the Scriptures, although the references to canon law and the USCCB ethical directives were aplenty. Bishop David Malloy was ushered into the Vatican diplomatic corps by +Rigali, as was Cardinal James Harvey. Archbishop John Nienstedt worked with +Rigali in Rome, and Bishop Robert Vasa, who also refused to comply with the Dallas Charter, and Archbishop Leonard Blair, who led the initial investigation of the LCWR, both have Cardinal Burke as their patrons. Some of the men on this list are talented. All, I am sure, are prayerful. But, all of them, along with others, have been complicit in the marginalization of the Church in our culture by adopting a defensive posture and a culture warrior approach that is the antithesis of Pope Francis approach.

4) The rise of immigration as an issue that unites the Church was the most obvious policy-oriented development in 2014. Following the example of Pope Francis visit to Lampedusa, the USCCB Committee on Migration held their spring meeting not in Washington, D.C. but in Tucson, Arizona and they started with a Mass at the border led by Cardinal Sean OMalley. The event garnered extensive and positive media coverage of the kind U.S. bishops have not gotten since before the clergy sex abuse crisis. The searing images of Cardinal Sean and Bishop Gerald Kicanas serving Holy Communion through the slats in the border fence went viral. Then, this summer, when there was a significant uptick in the number of unaccompanied minors coming across the border, the bishops responded with compassion and effectiveness. The compassion contrasted decisively with the angry protesters urging deportation. The effectiveness the Church was able to help re-locate thousands of children away from detention centers and into homes made the point yet again that the opposite of the much-derided organized religion is disorganized religion.

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MSW's Top 7 Stories of 2014

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Dec 182014

Having said that, I do believe that the beginning of sorrows of 3 1/2 years before the advent of the Great Tribulation is getting close and we need to watch and pay attention. The Election…

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ESCAP, Kazakhstan Partner to Strengthen Renewable Energy in the Pacific Islands

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Dec 062014

Bangkok | December 4, 2014

Renewable energy for the Pacific Islands was bolstered this week with the signing of a new Trust Fund Agreement between the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) and the Republic of Kazakhstan, that included a voluntary contribution to ESCAP of US$ 200,000.

Speaking at the signing ceremony, the United Nations Under-Secretary-General and ESCAP Executive Secretary, Dr. Shamshad Akhtar acknowledged the strengthened partnership and welcomed the new trust fund agreement in support of renewable energy in the Pacific Islands.

The Capacity Development Trust Fund Agreement between ESCAP and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kazakhstan will support development of biogas-based renewable energy solutions in the Pacific Islands, following initial discussions between ESCAP and the Government of Kazakhstan at the Third International Conference for Small Island Developing States, in Samoa, in September 2014.

Food, water and energy security are key priorities for the election campaign of Kazakhstan in the non-permanent members of the UN Security Council 2017-18 biennium, noted H.E. Mr. Marat Yessenbayev, Ambassador, Embassy of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Bangkok during the ceremony.

The project will focus on the installation and rollout of sanitation and energy systems in ten small island developing states (SIDS), which include: Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Timor-Leste and Tonga. This is based on successful experiences and lessons from existing biogas approaches in the Pacific.

The Republic of Kazakhstan is an important partner and emerging donor of ESCAP, providing its support to technical cooperation work in areas of environment, energy and financing for sustainable development, and through hosting ESCAPs Subregional Office for North and Central Asia in Almaty.

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ESCAP, Kazakhstan Partner to Strengthen Renewable Energy in the Pacific Islands

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Liberia: Govt Bans Beach-Going Over Ebola Fears

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Nov 272014

For the first time in years Liberians will have to do without the beaches on what is unarguably the biggest holiday in the Ebola-hit post-war nation. November 29 is the birth anniversary of Liberia’s18th and longest serving president, William V.S. Tubman, which is observed as a national holiday. But this year, the Liberian government ordered all beaches operating across the country closed on November 29.

The shutdown means that a lot of Liberian who have traditionally thronged the beaches will be staying home a shift from the norms of the past year when many crowd the beaches and other entertainment places to celebrate.

Ironically, the biggest holiday of the year is set aside for Tubman, who led Liberia from his election in 1944 until his death in 1971. Tubman is regarded as the “father of modern Liberia”; his presidency was marked by attracting sufficient foreign investment to modernize the economy and infrastructure. During his tenure, Liberia experienced a period of prosperity.

He also led a policy of national unity in order to reduce the social and political differences between his fellow Americo-Liberians and the indigenous Liberians. However, during his tenure, he became increasingly authoritarian in his exercise of power. This year, according to Information Minister Isaac Jackson, the day is being contained because of the deadly Ebola outbreak as authorities look to curb the further spread of the Ebola virus.

This year, the Liberia National Police to keep surveillance at beaches across the country to apprehend violators as the government has warned against gathering at beaches in violation of the pronouncement by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf few months ago halts large gatherings at beaches and amusement centers due to the Ebola outbreak.

The government on Wednesday by Proclamation declared Saturday, November 29, 2014, as the 119th birth Anniversary of the late President William V.S. Tubman, and is to be observed throughout Liberia as a *National Holiday. The Proclamation further orders and directs all government offices, business houses and market places to be closed during the observance from Six O’clock ante meridian to Six O’clock post meridian.

The Proclamation is in consonance with an Act of Legislature enacted at the 3rd Session of the 42nd National Legislature of Liberia, declaring the birth anniversary of Liberia’s 18th President William Vacanarat Shadrach Tubman (November 29, 2014) of each year as a National Holiday in keeping with the will of the Liberian people.

According to a Foreign Ministry release, the Proclamation is in recognition of his productive and meaningful services and policies, including the Open Door Policy, the National Unification and Integration Policy, the granting of suffrages to Liberian women as well as the policies on all social, economic development nationwide and his contributions to the emancipation of African colonial territories into self-governing statehood.

The Proclamation further declared that the celebration is in consideration of the numerous contribution, profound changes and lasting compliments made by President Tubman during his administration as the 18th President of the Republic of Liberia, the people, desirous of showing their deep appreciation, esteem and approval for his outstanding, noble and remarkable leadership, did petition and request the National Legislature of the Nation to issue permanent record of their sentiments in honor of his birth for posterity.

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Liberia: Govt Bans Beach-Going Over Ebola Fears

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Pierre Teilhard De Chardin | Designer Children | Prometheism | Euvolution | Transhumanism