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One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors. -- Plato (429-347 BC)

Thursday, May 31, 2012

McConnell & George Will Defend 1st Amdt. And Citizens United Ruling

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Today in Washington, D.C. - May 31, 2012
The Senate reconvened at noon today for a pro-forma session and will then be in recess until Monday. When the Senate resumes legislative business next week, it will begin with the nomination of Timothy Hillman to be U.S. District Judge for the District of Massachusetts.

Yesterday, the House passed the following bills:
H.R. 1299 (voice vote) - Secure Border Act of 2011: "To achieve operational control of and improve security at the international land borders of the United States, and for other purposes."
HR 2764 (voice vote) — WMD Intelligence and Information Sharing Act of 2011
HR 3140 (voice vote) — Mass Transit Intelligence Prioritization Act - "To amend the Homeland Security Act of 2002 to direct the Secretary of Homeland Security to prioritize the assignment of officers and analysts to certain State and urban area fusion centers to enhance the security of mass transit systems."
HR 3310 (voice Vote) — Federal Communications Commission Consolidated Reporting Act of 2011 - To amend the Communications Act of 1934 to consolidate the reporting obligations of the Federal Communications Commission in order - to improve congressional oversight and reduce reporting burdens.
HR 3670 (voice vote) — A bill to require the Transportation Security Administration to comply with the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act.
HR 4041 (voice vote) — Export Promotion Reform Act - to amend the Export Enhancement Act of 1988 to further enhance the promotion of exports of United States goods and services, and for other purposes.
HR 4201 (390-2) — Servicemember Family Protection Act - to amend the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act to provide for the protection of child custody arrangements for parents who are members of the Armed Forces.
HR 5512 (voice vote) — Divisional Realignment Act of 2012 - To amend title 28, United States Code, to realign divisions within two judicial districts
HR 5651 (387-5) — Food and Drug Administration Reform Act of 2012 - to amend the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to revise and extend the user-fee programs for prescription drugs and for medical devices, to establish user-fee programs for generic drugs and biosimilars, and for other purposes.
HR 5740 (voice vote) — National Flood Insurance Program Extension Act - House agrees to previously pssed bill with the Senate amendment.
HR 915 (391-2)— Jaime Zapata Border Enforcement Security Task Force Act - to establish a Border Enforcement Security Task Force program to enhance border security by fostering coordinated efforts among Federal, State, and local border and law enforcement officials to protect United States border cities and communities from trans-national crime, including violence associated with drug trafficking, arms smuggling, illegal alien trafficking and smuggling, violence, and kidnapping along and across the international borders of the United States, and for other purposes.

Postponed: HR 3541 — Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act of 2011
Also bill to be considered today or this week:
HR 5743 — Fiscal 2013 Intelligence Authorization
HR 5854 — Fiscal 2013 Military Construction-VA Appropriations
HR 5325 — Fiscal 2013 Energy-Water Appropriations

In a must-read column today, George Will discusses a potential challenge to the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling that the high court will consider taking up in a few weeks.

Roll Call reports on the background of the case: “The high court signaled this week that it would meet in private conference on June 14 to decide how to proceed in the case, which turns on a constitutional challenge to a 100-year-old Montana corporate spending ban. The Citizens United ruling, which ended decades-old limits on direct corporate and union spending, technically nullified the Montana law. But the state refused to take its corporate spending ban off the books. A trio of corporations then challenged the ban as unconstitutional, but in December the state Supreme Court sided with Montana and upheld the law. The Supreme Court stayed that ruling in February. The high court will now decide as early as June 15-18 whether to summarily reject the state Supreme Court’s ruling, as the corporations challenging the law have requested.”

Will explains, “Three Montana corporations sued to bring the state into conformity with Citizens United by overturning a 100-year-old state law, passed when copper and other corporations supposedly held sway, that bans all corporate political spending. The state’s Supreme Court refused to do this, citing Montana’s supposedly unique susceptibility to corporate domination — an idea amusingly discordant with the three corporations’ failure even to persuade the state court to acknowledge the supremacy of the U.S. Supreme Court.”

Will writes, “Reasons for the Supreme Court to reconsider Citizens United are nonexistent. The ruling’s primary effect has been to give unions and incorporated nonprofit advocacy groups freedom to spend what they choose on political speech as long as they do not coordinate with candidates or campaigns. Campaign ‘reformers,’ who advocate speech rationing, apparently regard evidence irrelevant to argument, probably because there is no evidence for their assertion that 2012 has been dominated by corporate money unleashed by Citizens United. An amicus brief submitted to the Supreme Court by Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky),  a staunch defender of the First Amendment, notes:
“Through March 31, the eight leading super PACs supporting Republican presidential candidates received contributions totaling $96,410,614. Of this, $83,220,167 (86.32 percent) came from individuals, only $13,190,447 (13.68 percent) from corporations, and only 0.81 percent from public companies. McConnell says, “Not a single one of the Fortune 100 companies has contributed a cent” to any of the eight super PACS. These facts refute such prophesied nightmares as The Post’s fear that corporate money “may now overwhelm” individuals’ contributions.”

Will also points out, “Before Citizens United removed restrictions on independent expenditures by for-profit corporations, a majority of states already had no such restrictions. Neither did they have records of distinctively bad behavior. Indisputably, this year’s super PACs have, as McConnell’s brief says, ‘led to more political debate over a lengthier period of time during which more voters had the opportunity to participate in the choice of a presidential candidate.’ As McConnell notes, the Montana court’s ruling is ‘disdainful’ and disobedient regarding the Citizens United decision, but this lawlessness is not what bothers many people who think of themselves as defenders of good government.

Instead,” Will argues, “much of the media and most liberals urge Americans to be scandalized about ‘too much money’ in politics. That three-word trope means (because most political money is spent on the dissemination of political advocacy) that there is more political speech by others than is considered proper by much of the media, which are unrestricted advocates.” As Will concludes, “The collapse of liberals’ confidence in their ability to persuade is apparent in their concentration on rigging the rules of political persuasion. Their problem is that the First Amendment is the rule.”

Tags: House, bills passed, George Will, Mitch McConnell, defend free speech,  Montana, Citizen United, Supreme Court To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!
Posted by Bill Smith at 2:30 PM - Post Link

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