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Supreme Court Gun Carry Rights; Drake v. Jerejian, Pending petition
Drake v. Jerejian, Pending petition Issue: (1) Whether the Second Amendment secures a right to carry handguns outside the home for self-defense; and (2) whet…

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B. Scott arrives to the 25th Annual GLAAD in Los Angeles in April 2014.

FORTUNE — In August 2013, transgender television personality B. Scott filed a suit against Black Entertainment Television and its parent company Viacom Inc., claiming that the network had discriminated against him based on his gender identity and sexual orientation.

The lawsuit stemmed from Scott’s appearance as a style correspondent at the 2013 BET awards preshow. After his first segment of the night, in which he appeared with heavy makeup and heels, the network told him to tone down his look and change into masculine clothing that was “different from the androgynous style he’s used to … and comfortable with,” according to the complaint.

A Los Angeles Superior Court judge decided the case Wednesday, and it came down to theFirst Amendment; not Scott’s freedom to speech and expression, but Viacom’s (VIA).The court found that BET’s decision as to how Scott would appear on camera was part of the network’s creative process of developing and broadcasting the show, which is protected by the First Amendment.

MORE:Americans have fallen in love with real estate once again

The case is by no means the first in which a media company has used the First Amendment as a defenseagainst lawsuits alleging discrimination. The order on Thursday cites several other instances.

There was the racial discrimination case against ABC for its failure to feature non-white contestants on The Bachelorand The Bachelorette. A federal district court in Tennessee dismissed the matter after finding that “casting decisions are a necessary component of any entertainment show’s creative content.” The court said that “the plaintiffs seek to drive an artificial wedge between casting decisions and the end product, which itself is indisputably protected as speech by the First Amendment.”

And there was the lawsuit filed against Warner Bros. by a former writers’ assistant for the television show Friendswho asserted that the use of sexually coarse and vulgar language and conduct by the show’s writers constituted sexual harassment. The Supreme Court of California in that case held that “the First Amendment protects creativity.”

The case thatheld greatestprecedent is a matter in which a group of gay, lesbian, and bisexual Irish Americans sought to participate in Boston’s St. Patrick’s Day parade. The U.S. Supreme Court, which ultimately heard the case, ruled that it would be a violation of the First Amendment for Massachusetts to require private citizens “who organize a parade to include among the marchers a group imparting a message the organizers do not wish to convey.”

The defendants in these cases arguedthat they didn’t care what their employees or participants are in reality — gay, straight, male, female — but rather how they appear. “They say, ‘We are entitled to create a program that looks the way we want it to look,’” says Eugene Volokh, a professor at UCLA School of Law. And the courts have agreed with them.

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To kill bias suits, companies lean on the First Amendment



Changing The Second Amendment
If retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens had his way; five words would be added to the Second Amendment, which would dramatically change its meanin…

By: James Burns

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Changing The Second Amendment – Video

WASHINGTON (AP) The legality of government surveillance is likely to come before the Supreme Court someday, and Justices Antonin Scalia and Ruth Bader Ginsburg appear less than thrilled at the prospect.

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2 long-time friends discuss the First Amendment

At 10 a.m. next Tuesday, the Supreme Court continues its current fascination with free speech and the First Amendment, exploring at a one-hour hearing when an advocacy group can challengea restriction on election campaign rhetoric. Arguing for two advocacy groups in Susan B. Anthony List v. Driehaus will be Michael A. Carvin of the Washington, D.C., office of Jones Day, withtwenty minutes of time. If the Court, as expected, permits the federal government to join in the argument, its views will be represented by Eric J. Feigin, an Assistant to the U.S. Solicitor General, with ten minutes. Ohios lawyer at the lectern, with thirty minutes, will be Ohio Solicitor Eric E. Murphy of Columbus.

Background

The attack ad, often used to shamea candidate in an effort to persuade voters, is as common in todays political campaigns as buttons, town hall meetings, andendorsements. But it is not routine for the government to try to police those ads. The state of Ohio and some fifteen others try to do so, however, and that has helped produce the latest First Amendment case for a Supreme Court that currently has a keen interest inthat amendment, especially in campaign settings.

In all of the history of the First Amendment, theCourt has never ruled that false statements are totally without protection under the Constitution. It made the point again (although in a somewhat uncertain ruling that lackeda clear majority) in the decision two years ago in United States v. Alvarez, which took most of the punch out of a federal law making it a federal crime to falsely claim that one had received a military medal. That, too, involved political speech.

But if a group or an individual wants to challenge a law that outlaws speech, how and when is it allowed togo to courtto claim the protection ofthe First Amendment?That is the issue the Court faces next week, in the first case to reach it in which opposition to the new federal health care law became a campaign issue.

When the House of Representatives in 2010 gave its final approval to the Affordable Care Act (now known widely in politics as Obamacare), one of theDemocrats voting for it was Rep. Steven Driehaus, representing an Ohio district that included Cincinnati and its suburbs. Later that year, he campaigned for reelection, but was defeated.

An advocacy group that is opposed to abortions, the Susan B. Anthony List, made an arrangement to put up a billboard in Driehauss district that would proclaim: Shame on Steve Driehaus! Driehaus voted FOR taxpayer-funded abortion. It also aired radio broadcasts with the same message. The billboard never went up, because the company owning the space backed down when a lawyer for the congressman threatened to sue, claiming the message misrepresented his vote.

Driehaus soon pursued a complaint with the Ohio ElectionsCommission, which has the power to recommend prosecution for violations of a state truth-in-politics law. That law has two key provisions:it prohibits anyone from trying to influence voters by intentionally making a false statement about a candidates voting record, and it prohibits the distribution of any false statement about a candidate if the source knew it was false or didnt care whether it was true or false.

The state commission, in a preliminary vote, sided with Driehaus, but before any prosecution by state officials went forward, Driehaus was defeated for reelection, and his complaint was dismissed by the commission at his request.

Susan B. Anthony List then sued in federal court,seeking to strike down the law under the First Amendment. It sued Driehaus and the state commission, along with its members. Thatcase was joined with one filed by an anti-tax group, the Coalition Opposed to Additional Spending and Taxes, which had wanted to send out emails and other materials also attacking Driehaus for allegedly voting for tax-supported abortion. That group said it had held off sending out its messages because it knew of the commission action on Driehauss complaint, and was deterred from speaking out.

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Argument preview: Attack ads and the First Amendment

Published: Monday, April 14, 2014 at 11:39 AM.

In eliminating yet another federal limit on campaign contributions, the U.S. Supreme Court on April 2 reaffirmed the principle that money is political speech and, therefore, protected under the First Amendment.

That notion enrages those who view dollars spent on politics as a threat to democracy. Indeed, although the courts 5-4 decision in McCutcheon v. FEC struck down a relatively obscure law that limited the total amount an individual can contribute to various federal campaigns over a two-year campaign cycle, critics treated it as the death knell of the republic and a harbinger of the coming oligarchy.

All that rending of garments is over the fact that now a donor can give $5,200 to any number of candidates for federal office, instead of just nine as if 10 represented a tipping point.

At the core of the McCutcheon decision is a debate over corruption vs. influence. The courts majority narrowly defines the former, while the dissenting minority seeks to conflate the two.

Chief Justice John Roberts, writing for the majority, argues that the court has identified only one legitimate governmental interest for restricting campaign finances: preventing corruption or the appearance of corruption, and that the only type of corruption Congress may target is quid pro quo corruption.

In his dissent, Justice Stephen Breyer argues that the definition of corruption should be expanded to include influence over or access to elected officials. But influencing government is a fundamental American freedom, expressed in the First Amendments guarantees of free speech and the right to petition. Indeed, the court has repeatedly ruled that political speech, as opposed to other kinds (such as obscenity), is the primary object of First Amendment protection, and thus held to the highest scrutiny of government interference.

In the case of McCutcheon, Breyer and the other dissenters would uphold laws that restrict an individual citizens ability to influence politics by capping the number of campaigns he can contribute to, but which would allow media organizations unlimited opportunities to opine. Roberts hit on this possibility when he wrote, the Government may no more restrict how many candidates or causes a donor may support than it may tell a newspaper how many candidates it may endorse.

There is a better way to reduce the role Big Money plays in politics, without encroaching on the First Amendment: Give it less to influence.

The increase in the number of lobbying and advocacy groups and the money they spend coincides with the growth of the regulatory state. The more aspects of our lives government attempts to control, the more those affected will seek to influence those decisions as is their constitutional right.

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Editorial: A government not worth influencing

A sharply divided U.S. Supreme Court recently invalidated another campaign-finance restriction on First Amendment grounds in McCutcheon v. FEC.

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David Hudson: Campaign finance limits hit

The story Mozilla CEO resignation raises free-speech issues [Business / Technology, April 5] brings up interesting issues.

Mozilla co-founder Brendan Eich stepped down Thursday as chief executive, just days after his appointment. He left the nonprofit maker of the Firefox browser after furious attacks, largely on Twitter, over his $1,000 contribution to support of a now-overturned 2008 gay marriage ban.

The liberals got angry, the boss resigned, and now conservatives are demanding a boycott of the Firefox browser. Everybody is upset. Both sides are demonstrating their outrage by boycotting or threatening to boycott the company.

So, is it a wise career strategy for a CEO to contribute to political campaigns? Recently the Supreme Court has protected such donations as free speech. But just because donations are protected does it spare the CEO any criticism? No. Free speech goes both ways.

The ultimate decision before writing a political check is: How will this hurt my business? If a CEO is the face of a company, maybe he or she should think twice about supporting lightning-rod social issues.

For those of us who do not have the money to sway elections, our only free speech resource is a boycott.

Lucia Regan, Seattle

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Mozilla: CEOs should think twice before donating to hot-button issues



Attorney Legal Analyst AnneElise Goetz on Free Speech and Campaign Contributions
Free speech, The Bill of Rights and campaign contributions. The political shackles have been lifted from the First Amendment. The United States Supreme Court…

By: The Daily Ledger

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Attorney & Legal Analyst AnneElise Goetz on Free Speech and Campaign Contributions – Video



Supreme Court Refuses To Hear New Mexico Religious Freedom Case The Kelly File -World Latest News
The worlds best compensation plan 25 Day Study Finally Reaches Monthly Income $ 5000 will Sign up for free: http://bedaze.experienceba.com/?SOURCE=youtube Ev…

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Supreme Court Refuses To Hear New Mexico Religious Freedom Case The Kelly File -World Latest News – Video

Press release:

Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,C,I-Batavia) continued his fight to restore the Second Amendment rights of his constituents in Albany by pushing for a repeal of the SAFE Act. Hawley helped force a vote on legislation he co-sponsors (A.6238) in the Assembly Codes Committee, which unfortunately was unsuccessful. While vowing to continue fighting to repeal the SAFE Act, Hawley noted that his bill was defeated by downstate, New York City interests.

I am working hard with my colleagues who cherish the Second Amendment to see the rights enshrined by it restored. We got a vote on legislation that would repeal the SAFE Act, but it was unfortunately voted down by downstate Assembly liberals, said Hawley. They voted to put honest, law-abiding people in jail for exercising their constitutional right to bear arms and protect their families. Their actions have only strengthened my resolve to stand up for the good people of Western New York who should be enjoying their full Second Amendment rights.

As long as the Assembly is controlled by downstate liberals, Hawley recognizes that repeal through legislative means is likely dead on arrival. However, he is hopeful that a lawsuit working its way through the court system will find the SAFE Act unconstitutional when it arrives at the Supreme Court. In the meantime, Hawley vows to continue doing his part to restore the Second Amendment through outspoken advocacy and organizing fellow Second-Amendment enthusiasts.

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Hawley continues push to repeal SAFE Act



C-SPAN Cities Tour – Bend: James Foster “Bong Hits 4 Jesus”
Learn about Morse v. Frederick, the Supreme Court case that tackled free speech in an American high school from James Foster, a political science professor a…

By: C-SPAN

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C-SPAN Cities Tour – Bend: James Foster "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" – Video

THE U.S. Supreme Courts decision in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission was only out a few minutes before elected officials and campaign-finance reformers began condemning it as another disastrous step toward an American oligarchy.

But Americans should not be alarmed by the ruling. The decision is consistent with the First Amendment and with Americas long tradition of unrestricted political speech.

The case concerned a federal law that restricted how many candidates or political committees a donor could support with a maximum campaign contribution.

Shaun McCutcheon, the plaintiff in the case, contributed the maximum amount to 16 federal candidates, but the law made it a crime for him to contribute a single cent more to another candidate. He sued, arguing that the law violated his First Amendment right to support the candidates of his choice.

In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court agreed.

The laws demise will have little practical effect. Donors rarely reached the aggregate limit. According to a statement by the Federal Election Commission, only 646 donors reached the biennial limit of $123,200 in 2012. The additional contributions the decision permits will still be subject to limits on how much money someone can contribute to an individual candidate. Moreover, the laws regulating Washington state elections do not have this kind of aggregate limit.

Opponents of the decision argue that it is still wrong, based mainly on slogans like money isnt speech and an ill-founded concern that treating financial contributions as protected under the First Amendment will allow billionaires to buy democracy or drown out the voices of speakers with less money.

In a narrow sense, these opponents are correct about one thing: Money is not speech. But money enables speech, and that is why the right to make political contributions is protected by the First Amendment.

This is an enormous and heavily populated country. The Puget Sound region alone is home to 3 million people. In order to communicate with voters and for voters to hear from candidates, it takes money.

Try publishing a book, making a video or printing a flyer without spending one penny. It cannot be done. This means that if the government can restrict how much money one can spend in disseminating a political message, it can effectively silence any speech that carries beyond the sound of your voice.

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Guest: Supreme Court McCutcheon ruling protects political speech

Last week the Supreme Court overturned federal limits on the total amounts that one person may contribute to candidates and political committees during a single election cycle. The government may no more restrict how many candidates or causes a donor may support than it may tell a newspaper how many candidates it may endorse, the court declared in an opinion by Chief Justice John Roberts.

But according to Justice Stephen Breyer, who wrote a dissenting opinion that was joined by three of his colleagues, the restrictions challenged in McCutcheon v. FEC are perfectly compatible with the First Amendment, which advances not only the individuals right to engage in political speech, but also the publics interest in preserving a democratic order in which collective speech matters.

The idea that individual rights must be sacrificed for the sake of a vaguely defined collective interest reflects the dangerously broad agenda of campaign-finance reformers, who seek to shape the political debate so that it comports with their own notion of the public good.

Preventing corruption is the traditional justification for limits on campaign donations. As you might expect given his nebulous aim of preserving a democratic order in which collective speech matters, Breyer favors a broad definition of corruption, including not just quid pro quo bribery (such as agreeing to vote for a bill in exchange for a donation) but also undue influence. While everyone understands what bribery entails, undue influence is in the eye of the beholder. On the day McCutcheon was argued, for instance, President Obama worried that it would exacerbate a problem created by the Supreme Courts 2010 decision in Citizens United v. FEC, which lifted restrictions on political speech by unions and corporations. The problem, according to Obama: too much speech of the wrong sort.

You have some ideological extremist who has a big bankroll, and they can entirely skew our politics, Obama complained. There are a whole bunch of members of Congress right now who privately will tell you, I know our positions are unreasonable, but were scared that if we dont go along with the Tea Party agenda or some particularly extremist agenda that well be challenged from the right. And the threats are very explicit, and so they toe the line. And thats part of why weve seen a breakdown of just normal, routine business done here in Washington on behalf of the American people.

In short, Obama thinks Citizens United was devastating (as he called it a few days after the case was decided) because it freed his opponents to criticize him and interfered with business as usual in Washington. Many Americans would see those as advantages.

In any case, its clear that Obama views campaign-finance regulation as a way of managing the political debate and keeping it from becoming too extremist, a rationale the court has never endorsed and one that is totally at odds with the First Amendments command that Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech.

Similarly, the editorial board of The New York Times, which decries the distorting power of money on American elections, cites the broad ideological change sought by the Koch brothers as a reason to keep the aggregate caps on campaign contributions. To equate the ability of billionaires to buy elections with freedom of speech is totally absurd, Rep. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) opines, while Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) bemoans the undue influence of special interests and Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) complains that the Supreme Court has chosen to pour even more money into our process and our politics.

As self-financed candidates periodically discover, you cant really buy elections. Even if a candidate is interested only in gaining and retaining power, he has to convince voters he is worthy of their trust.

The undue influence that worries Breyer, Obama, Sanders, McCain and Pelosi is ultimately based on the power of speech to persuade a power Congress is forbidden to regulate.

Continued here:
Free speech vs. protecting rights of collective speech

In striking down the aggregate limits on contributions to candidates, PACs and political parties challenged in McCutcheon v. FEC, the Supreme Court delivered a victory not only to political donors seeking to support more challenges to incumbents, but to everyone who is affected by American politics and law. The reason is a key and often forgotten point about the First Amendment: it protects speech, not speakers.

Freedom of speech is often treated as a contemptible burden in American politics; something that must be endured but not respected. When hateful speech is heard, or a wealthy individual spends huge sums of money on speech we disagree with, we commonly ask why they ought to possess a right that we feel does more harm than good. This was the general reaction to the McCutcheon decision: why does anyone need the right to spend more than $123,000 (the limit declared unconstitutional) on political contributions?

This misses the point by focusing solely on the speaker and ignoring the broader social benefits that result from a free and uninhibited exchange of ideas. Speech is constitutionally protected and unlimited because society benefits from the increased knowledge that is generated by it, and because the government cannot be trusted to decide what speech is “good” and what speech is “bad”. Chief Justice Roberts writes in the McCutcheon decision that “The First Amendment does not protect the government, even when the government purports to act through legislation reflecting “collective speech.”"

The wisdom of this principle has been borne out by history, which teaches us that the power to censor is always used against those who criticize the powerful. This was true a century ago when the government prosecuted pacifists in World War I and communist sympathizers in the Red Scare. It is just as true today, when protestors at political conventions are put in caged “free speech zones”, such as at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, and when a majority of the nation’s universities maintain unconstitutional speech codes used to punish criticism, such as occurred in 2007 when Valdosta State University had a student “administratively withdrawn” (expelled) for criticizing the construction of a parking garage on campus.

Speech restrictions of all kinds exist to protect those in power from criticism. In the case of contribution limits, incumbents are protected from challengers. Despite its reputation as a tool of the establishment, money spent on political speech actually creates an opportunity to challenge entrenched political interests by increasing voter knowledge. This is especially valuable for outsider candidates running grassroots campaigns without the aid of connections to the ruling class or major media corporations. Pessimism about politics might lead us to think money spent on political advertising is wasted, but research shows that spending in campaigns is correlated with higher voter turnout and higher levels of public knowledge. This should not be surprising; the more advertisements you see about a candidate, the more likely you are to want to figure out what all the commotion is about and discuss the race with your friends.

This is how unlimited political speech comes to benefit everyone affected by American public policy: through producing a more informed, engaged electorate. Yet when cases like McCutcheon are discussed in the public sphere, they are presented as “wins” for large donors and “losses” for the rest of us.

This is nonsensical – speech is not a zero sum game. We all benefit from the exchange of ideas, regardless of their source. That is why cries of “corporations are not people!” are not an adequate response to the Citizens United decision which allowed corporations and unions to spend unlimited sums of money on political speech. The entity speaking does not matter, the speech itself does.

It is an unfortunate indication of our culture’s declining respect for the First Amendment that a ruling which removes an unnecessary restriction on the ability of citizens to participate in the political process is vilified. Perhaps that would begin to change if we recognized that more speech for Citizen A creates ripple effects increasing political participation throughout the system. He often speaks for thousands or millions of others who agree with him, and those who disagree may still be informed or motivated by his message. We must remember that voters are not robots who treat ads as orders, and in this social media age people can nearly instantly respond, rebut, subvert and lampoon the speech with others if the message is false or unpersuasive. And on Election Day, everyone still gets exactly one vote.

The answer to speech is more speech. The First Amendment should mean that the government does not get to say “you’ve said enough.” With McCutcheon v. FEC, the Supreme Court has brought us one big step closer to living up to that ideal.

Luke Wachob is the McWethy Fellow at the Center for Competitive Politics.

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LUKE WACHOB: A victory for free speech, a win for democracy

Monday, April 7, 2014

A sharply divided U.S. Supreme Court recently invalidated another campaign-finance restriction on First Amendment grounds in McCutcheon v. FEC.

Eight of the nine justices evaluated the case under the Courts seminal decision, Buckley v. Valeo (1976). Justice Clarence Thomas, however, once again reiterated his strongly held views that Buckley was wrongly decided.

For the sixth time, Thomas wrote an opinion calling into question the viability of the Buckley decision, which drew a distinction between political contributions and political spending. Thomas views Buckley as unnecessarily restricting the right of the people and others to make political contributions.

In his concurring opinion in McCutcheon, Thomas pulls no punches, writing that the Buckley decision denigrates core First Amendment speech and should be overruled. He believes that the late Chief Justice Warren Burger was correct years ago in his separate opinion in Buckley when he reasoned that political contributions and expenditures were two sides of the same First Amendment coin.

Thomas fervently asserts that when an individual or corporation contributes money to a political candidate or campaign, that individual or entity is saying, I support this political candidate. The contributing of money is core political speech, which should receive the highest protection in First Amendment jurisprudence.

Others may criticize Thomas view for ignoring what they see as the corrupting influence of big money in political campaigns. But give Thomas credit for consistency. He has remained constant in his constitutional vision.

It is not unusual for Thomas to advocate the overruling of precedents that he believes are inconsistent with the Constitution. He has argued for the overruling of the Courts leading student-speech case, Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District (1969); the Courts leading commercial-speech test in Central Hudson Gas & Elec. v. Public Service Commn (1980); the Courts prisoner-rights standard in Turner v. Safley (1987) and the incorporation of the establishment clause way back in Everson v. Bd. of Education (1947).

This case represents yet another missed opportunity to right the course of our campaign finance jurisprudence by restoring a standard that is faithful to the First Amendment, Thomas writes. Until we undertake that reexamination we remain in a halfway house of our own design.

Clearly, Justice Clarence Thomas continues to advocate his own constitutional design.

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Thomas again calls for overruling of Buckley v. Valeo



Money = Free Speech For Supreme Court
The Supreme Court has ruled that limiting campaign contributions is a limit of free speech. The 5-4 ruling was supported by Justice Clarence Thomas, who did not recuse himself in spite of…

By: TheLipTV

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Money = Free Speech For Supreme Court – Video

By Lawrence Hurley WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to consider whether a New Mexico photography company had free speech grounds to refuse to shoot the commitment ceremony of a same-sex couple. The court's refusal to intervene means an August 2013 New Mexico Supreme Court decision against the company remains intact. Albuquerque-based Elane Photography had said its …

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Supreme Court declines free speech, gay marriage case

Editorial: Lifting campaign donation caps is a victory for speech

The U.S. Supreme Court struck another blow for free speech in tossing out the federal limit on how much an individual can donate to political campaigns. The court ruled 5-4 in McCutcheon v. FEC

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Editorial: Lifting campaign donation caps is a victory for speech



There Ain't No First Amendment As to Religion
LIONEL NY's PIX 11 News Commentary Aired: April 4, 2014 The Supreme Court and Nino Scalia in particular haven't a clue as to what the hell the Establishment …

By: LionelY2K

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There Ain’t No First Amendment As to Religion – Video



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