What will Friends of Hillary do?
March 3, 2005 8:12 PM   Subscribe

The Coming Crackdown on Political Blogging. "In just a few months... bloggers and news organizations could risk the wrath of the federal government if they improperly link to a campaign's Web site. Even forwarding a political candidate's press release to a mailing list...could be punished by fines." CNet's engrossing interview with an FEC commissioner who predicts major turmoil ahead as the government tries to decide if a blog link is a donation. A Brookings paper (pdf) suggest "Radical changes in modes of communication and forms of political campaigning lie not too distant on the horizon." This guy says it's all an attempt to undermine campaign finance laws by freaking out bloggers.
posted by CunningLinguist (19 comments total)
Peering into the future
By a 8-1 majority, the Supreme Court today ruled that the First Amendment does not apply to blogging. Writing for the majority, Chief Justice Ashcroft stated that "in no way could the Founding Fathers have intended freedom of speech for blogs, as blogging could not have even been imagined by those who framed our Constitution."

Overturning the lower courts, who ruled for the application of the First Amendment in the case, Justice Bork added that this was a strike against "an activist judiciary" that attempted to interpret the Constitution in the context of the 21st Century.

George W. Bush, still beaming from a historic 5th inauguration, expressed satisfaction in the ruling. Vice President Jeb Bush joined him in words of praise for the decision of the Judicial Branch.
posted by spock at 8:22 PM on March 3, 2005

Thanks a lot, McCain-Feingold.
posted by techgnollogic at 8:36 PM on March 3, 2005

I just can't wait to see them try to enforce this. Irrational laws and inconsistent enforcement only breed disrespect for the law in general.
posted by tweak at 8:40 PM on March 3, 2005

This is what you get when you try to regulate political speech under the guise of campaign finance reform. Every attempt to weed out the "corrosive" effect of money (the mother's milk of politics, as they say) seems only to create new loopholes and weird unintended consequences. People should be able to spend, blog, and link freely in support of candidates and positions.
posted by SSShupe at 8:46 PM on March 3, 2005

That's sure to be successful. For example, look how pornography has been eradicated from the internet!

posted by clevershark at 8:48 PM on March 3, 2005

Of course it won't be successful, but it's an excellent illustration of what's wrong with, as SSShupe put it, regulating political speech under the guise of campaign finance reform. Maybe we should hope that the FEC does extend McCain-Feingold to the internet, just to make an even more humongously obvious target for public opinion, common sense, and - i would hope - the Supreme Court to hate on.
posted by techgnollogic at 8:57 PM on March 3, 2005

It's surprising how campaign finance reform has turned out to be a complete turkey... turn back the clock 5 years and people thought that it would make a positive difference.

What a joke.
posted by clevershark at 9:04 PM on March 3, 2005

Frog 1: Say, does this pot of water feel a teensy bit hotter to you?

Frog 2: Shh! I'm watching Survivor.
posted by Wataki at 9:20 PM on March 3, 2005

If I may self-link, McConnell v. FEC made very clear that this sort of restraint on free speech is not legal. It would be ludicrous for the FEC to even propose it -- the Supreme Court would strike it down in a heartbeat. They ruled strongly in favor of free expression in Buckley v. Valeo, just as they did in McConnell, and they'll do so again if the FEC proposed it, which they wouldn't, because they know full well it wouldn't have a chance.

Remember -- major portions of of McCain-Feingold was struck down by the SCOTUS. McCain-Feingold placed limitations on how much wealthy candidates could spend on their own campaign, and it barred contributions from minors. Both of these were hailed as major restrictions at the time that the BCRA was passed. The SCOTUS removed both from the law, holding, in extremely strong language, that it was totally unconstitutional to restrict free expression in that manner.

Remember, too, that this is all based on a silly scare-mongering article in News.com.com.com based on an interview with a guy who believes that the FEC should cease to exist, that campaign finance laws are wrong, and that money has no effect on politics at all.

It's not going to happen.
posted by waldo at 9:26 PM on March 3, 2005

The should just end campaign finance laws. I'd rather *evil* corporations having more influence than these restrictions on free speech.
posted by drscroogemcduck at 10:43 PM on March 3, 2005

You're going to the slammer for posting that, fandango_matt, quotes or not.
posted by cactus at 12:10 AM on March 4, 2005

They should get rid of most of the campaign finance laws and just reinstate the rule that TV and radio stations must give equal time to both sides of controversial views (taken out during the 80's I believe, but this is part of the reason that cigarettes stopped being advertised on TV- the anti-smoking forces were close to demanding free time for anti-smoking ads in equal time with cigarette ads).

I honestly think that this would fix several things.
posted by Hactar at 2:10 AM on March 4, 2005

Do you dare speak of that archaic concept of a Fairness Doctrine?
posted by brucec at 6:50 AM on March 4, 2005

Do check out the "this guy" link in the FPP. Kinda puts things in their proper perspective. It's an anti-campaign-finance-reform scare tactic.
posted by adamrice at 8:54 AM on March 4, 2005

I'm with adamrice. Brad Smith has long been on record as wanting to get rid of campaign finance regulations. It is yet another instance of the Bush Administration putting someone vehemently against regulation into the role of regulator.
posted by Cassford at 9:40 AM on March 4, 2005

to hell with the rules, i'll link to what i damn well want to
posted by pyramid termite at 10:01 AM on March 4, 2005

Reinforcing the sensation that scare tactiques are often used by some people , here's something fresh (?) that I've just collected on the net (warning: cut'n'pasted not double checked)

Creators Syndicate, the company that syndicates O'Reilly's newspaper columns, sent our webmaster, Jim Gilliam and us a letter threatening legal action over Marie Therese's inadvertent reproduction of one of O'Reilly's columns. As her post now acknowledges, Marie Therese immediately removed the column and provided a link instead. But in a move reminiscent of O'Reilly, himself, the company quickly launched a new attack: "Creators Syndicate demands that you immediately cease and desist from your unauthorized use of the link to Bill O'Reilly's column on his website." full text

It seems that hypertext linking doesn't violate copyright (which makes me recall on what grounds was the Nova attacked ?).... so it seems the attack had no foundation in law, but foundation in sheer ignorance of law and practice in legal matters, not mentioning lack of money to pay lawyers worth their bills.
posted by elpapacito at 10:23 AM on March 4, 2005

I agree with the "this guy" link. That was my first thought when I saw Declan's article yesterday. It really does look like a transparent power play that would have almost zero chance of judicial approval.

Elpapacito...that's just nuts. Unauthorized linking? Kids today and their crazy lawyer antics. Why in my day, we'd have to surf for hours, upstream both ways, just to get a link.
posted by dejah420 at 11:31 AM on March 4, 2005

reinstate the rule that TV and radio stations must give equal time to both sides of controversial views

Yes, and how convenient it is for TV stations that there were exactly two sides to every issue. I eagerly await Fox's "We should spend $142B more on Iraq" vs. "We should spend $143B more on Iraq" debate.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 2:24 PM on March 4, 2005

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