Wednesday, October 11, 2006

No One Supports Free Speech More Than The ACLU, But..

It seems that ACLU big-wigs can't just get along when it comes to pesky political speech. Here's the core tidbit:

"While I am proud of my ACLU service and continue to support the ACLU's matchless efforts to preserve the Bill of Rights, I believe the national ACLU's position on campaign finance reform is wrong on constitutional and policy grounds," stated Burt Neuborne, currently the legal director of the Brennan Center and formerly the national legal director of the ACLU. "Opponents of reform should no longer be permitted to hide behind a constitutional smokescreen."
Now, I know what you're thinking: "Dude, this article is like, so old... and these are former members." Yeah well, I was doing a little light research on the ACLU's position on the First Amendment because despite what the ACLU faithful will tell you, it's not always a slam dunk. I was inspired into this research because of a blog I've found utterly fascinating which deals primarily with campaign finance issues vis-a-vis free speech.

The blog eventually linked to an article where local Connecticut ACLU officials took issue with a campaign "issue advocacy" ad placed by the ACLU national office. This ad, according to the local office may have crossed the line regarding the ACLU's self-styled position on non-partisanship.

If you actually RTFA, any thinking person who actually supports unfettered free speech can't help but be struck by the fact that the ACLU had to be very cautious about what and how their ad was presented lest it violate CFR laws. Let me be more clear: The ACLU is acutely aware that they can't just go and say anything they want in the arena of politics. Which amendment were we talking about again?

Anyhoo, the FEC isn't particularly concerned that the ad violated CFR laws because FEC officials have a "gut feeling" that it doesn't. I know I feel better. A few officials at the FEC can determine whether your political speech stands based on a "gut feeling".

A former member of the Federal Election Commission, Scott Thomas, said the ads would not meet the standard to be considered an improper donation to a federal campaign. "My gut feeling is that that probably would not be deemed express advocacy," Mr. Thomas said. "It does seem to be done in the context of a legislative battle."

Asked about the reference to the November election, Mr. Thomas said,"Obviously, that is a veiled public threat, if you will, that does tie into the election, but I have a feeling you wouldn't get four votes at the FEC for saying that's express advocacy."
Going back to the blog that led me here, it's a must-follow blog for anyone concerned about campaign finance reform laws and their overt tramping of the Amendment that is First.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The ACLU is in an internal battle right now. but it is still the only organization that is consistantly standing up for civil liberties.