Citizens United Wed, 05 Nov 2014 15:55:21 -0500 Wed, 05 Nov 2014 15:55:43 -0500 Citizens United: Our Supreme Court Case Helped Secure GOP Win <p>A <a href="">flood of outside spending</a>, much of it <a href="">undisclosed &ldquo;dark money,&rdquo;</a> helped Republicans make significant gains in yesterday&rsquo;s elections. The Supreme Court&rsquo;s 2010 <em>Citizens United</em> decision helped trigger the campaign spending avalanche, and so it come as no surprise that Citizens United&rsquo;s leader David Bossie took a victory lap today in a press conference of conservative activists reacting to the election results.</p> <p>&ldquo;<em>Citizens United</em>, our Supreme Court case, leveled the playing field and we&rsquo;re very proud of the impact that had in last night&rsquo;s election,&rdquo; he <a href="">said</a>. &ldquo;A robust conversation, which is what a level playing field allows, really creates an opportunity for the American people to get information and make good decisions.&rdquo;</p> <p>Bossie also accused Senate Democrats of trying to &ldquo;gut the First Amendment&rdquo; by voting in favor of a constitutional amendment that would overturn the Supreme Court&rsquo;s decision in the case.</p> <p align="center"><iframe width="560" height="315" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe> Brian Tashman C4 Citizens United David Bossie Election 2014 Supreme Court Citizens United Fighting the Right 48927 Wed, 05 Nov 2014 15:55:21 -0500 Citizens United Look Who Wants To Amend The Constitution Now: Ted Cruz Wants States' Rights Amendment on Marriage <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_teaser_astory" width="390" height="250" alt="" src="" /> <p>Sen. Ted Cruz has spent the past several months <a href=""> railing against a proposed constitutional amendment </a> to undo the Supreme Court&rsquo;s decisions in Citizens United and related campaign-finance cases, which would restore to Congress and the states the ability to &ldquo;<a href="">set reasonable limits</a>&rdquo; on election spending.</p> <p>Cruz has gone into full hyperbole mode over the amendment, claiming that the campaign to narrowly roll back what many legal experts believe is an erroneous interpretation of the First Amendment is in fact an effort to &ldquo;<a href="">repeal the First Amendment,</a>&rdquo; <a href="">silence pastors</a> <a href="">and imprison old ladies</a>.</p> <p>So, of course, it was no surprise at all yesterday to see Cruz himself proposing to amend the Constitution to reverse what <em>he</em> sees as an erroneous interpretation by the courts, this time on the issue of marriage. <a href="">Roll Call reported</a> on Cruz&rsquo;s reaction to the Supreme Court&rsquo;s "tragic" decision yesterday to decline hearing any marriage equality appeals, thus letting same-sex couples in several states get married:</p> <blockquote> <p>While most Republicans shied away from commenting Monday on the Supreme Court&rsquo;s historic decision to let stand a slew of lower court rulings legalizing gay marriage, Sen. Ted Cruz torched the court&rsquo;s decision.</p> <p>The Texas Republican called the decision &ldquo;tragic and indefensible&rdquo; and said he would introduce a constitutional amendment that would ensure states can ban gay marriage.</p> <p>&ldquo;By refusing to rule if the States can define marriage, the Supreme Court is abdicating its duty to uphold the Constitution. The fact that the Supreme Court Justices, without providing any explanation whatsoever, have permitted lower courts to strike down so many state marriage laws is astonishing,&rdquo; he said in a statement.</p> <p>&ldquo;It is beyond dispute that when the 14th Amendment was adopted 146 years ago, as a necessary post-Civil War era reform, it was not imagined to also mandate same-sex marriage, but that is what the Supreme Court is implying today. The Court is making the preposterous assumption that the People of the United States somehow silently redefined marriage in 1868 when they ratified the 14th Amendment,&rdquo; he said.</p> <p>&ldquo;Nothing in the text, logic, structure, or original understanding of the 14th Amendment or any other constitutional provision authorizes judges to redefine marriage for the Nation. It is for the elected representatives of the People to make the laws of marriage, acting on the basis of their own constitutional authority, and protecting it, if necessary, from usurpation by the courts.&rdquo;</p> </blockquote> <p>For the record, here is the section of the 14<sup>th</sup> Amendment that courts have been relying on to extend marriage rights to same-sex couples:</p> <blockquote> <p>All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.</p> </blockquote> Miranda Blue Anti-Gay C4 Citizens United Equality For All Government By the People Marriage Equality Marriage Equality Ted Cruz Texas Fair and Just Courts Fighting the Right 48579 Tue, 07 Oct 2014 09:59:30 -0500 Citizens United Janet Jackson, ISIS And The Amish: Religious Right Group Fears First Amendment On Last Legs <p>When Jerry Johnson, president of the National Religious Broadcasters (NRB), told the Values Voter Summit on Friday that the U.S. is <a href=""> witnessing the rise of &ldquo;self-imposed Sharia law&rdquo; </a> due to the gay rights movement, it turns out that he was just getting started.</p> <p>The next day, Johnson &mdash; whose group represents evangelical radio and television programs &mdash;&nbsp;<span style="line-height: 20.3999996185303px;">hosted a panel discussion on how the First Amendment is &ldquo;under siege&rdquo; by liberals. Johnson and his fellow panelists Craig Parshall, an NRB official and husband of right-wing talk show host Janet Parshall, and Canadian Religious Right activist Charles McVety, stoked fears about the persecution of Christians in the United States, including warning that Janet Jackson&rsquo;s decade-old &ldquo;wardrobe malfunction&rdquo; could lead to laws criminalizing anti-gay speech.</span></p> <p>Johnson suggested that the <a href="">anti-gay Benham brothers</a> somehow had their constitutional rights violated when <a href=""> HGTV dropped their planned reality show</a>, and repeatedly made misleading claims about a constitutional amendment to overturn the Supreme Court&rsquo;s <em>Citizens United </em>ruling. He warned that without <em>Citizens United</em>, &ldquo;private citizens&rdquo; would be barred from &ldquo;weighing in on elections,&rdquo; which of course implies that citizens did not have those rights prior to 2010, when the case was decided.</p> <p>McVety, the Canadian, claimed that the U.S. is on the verge of doing away with the First Amendment because he has heard &ldquo;whispers of hate speech&rdquo; laws on the horizon, alleging that even quoting from the Bible may soon become a criminal offense in America. Outside of the &ldquo;whispers&rdquo; he claims to have heard, McVety cited no evidence at all substantiating his claim about the imminent passage of unconstitutional hate speech laws.</p> <p>McVety explained his theory that U.S. activists will use ISIS propaganda videos of hostage beheadings as an excuse to enact laws banning hate speech. &ldquo;I can see it coming in America,&rdquo; he said.</p> <p>Johnson also tried to find evidence to back up the panel&rsquo;s dire warnings of constitutional collapse, warning that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) may cite the fines levied against Janet Jackson for her 2004 Super Bowl &ldquo;wardrobe malfunction&rdquo; as a precedent for fining conservative TV personalities under the guise of preserving public order and decency.</p> <p>The halftime show controversy, of course, occurred a decade ago without any of the horrible results that Johnson predicted, <a href="">and the NRB actually <em>supported </em>the FCC in the case</a>. Seeing that the NRB filed an <em>amicus curiae</em> brief under Parshall&rsquo;s name defending the FCC&rsquo;s fine [<a href="">PDF</a>], Johnson appears to suggest that his own organization is threatening the First Amendment.</p> <p>Parshall also grasped at straws in an effort to find evidence of imminent dangers to the First Amendment.</p> <p>After discussing &ldquo;Spanish inquisition-type investigations&rdquo; taking place in America and a &ldquo;tsunami&rdquo; of threats to the freedom of speech, Parshall could only cite the Supreme Court&rsquo;s decision in <em>Lawrence v. Texas</em>, the 2003 case that struck down anti-sodomy laws. He said the ruling paved the way for hate speech laws because of the majority opinion&rsquo;s use of international law in its decision.</p> <p>Since U.S. courts citing foreign laws&nbsp;<a href="">is</a> <a href="">nothing</a> <a href="">new</a>, we can only assume that Parshall merely cited <em>Lawrence </em> to raise fears about the gay-Sharia menace that Johnson previously warned about.</p> <p>Parshall then railed against hate speech policies on social media outlets like Twitter and Facebook, which of course have their own policies that users agree to uphold and do not represent the government.</p> <p>Parshall also pointed to the Amish beard shaving case &mdash; in which a group of people from an Amish sect were charged with breaking federal hate crime laws, among other counts, for forcibly and violently shaving the beards and cutting the hair of former sect members &mdash; to claim that the Justice Department used the hate crime charges against the Amish beard-cutters in order to give them more leeway for future prosecutions over hate speech.</p> <p>An appeals court recently <a href="">overturned</a> the religious-based hate crime conviction, finding that prosecutors couldn&rsquo;t prove that the attacks were motivated for religious reasons, rather than familial, political or personal disputes (two of the victims were the parents of their assailants).</p> <p>Essentially, the NRB panel&rsquo;s extreme claims about the imminent annihilation of the bedrock of the U.S. Constitution came down to a string of possibly-maybe-this-could-happen incidents that wed together Janet Jackson, ISIS and Amish beard-cutters.</p> <p>Johnson concluded his remarks by saying that the &ldquo;NRB will be for the First Amendment what the NRA is for the Second Amendment.&rdquo;</p> <p>If that means making completely outlandish statements and developing doomsday conspiracy theories to spur political outrage and raise money, then his comparison is right on.</p> Brian Tashman C4 Charles McVety Citizens United Craig Parshall Hate Crimes Jerry Johnson Values Voter Summit Religious Liberty 48504 Tue, 30 Sep 2014 12:25:16 -0500 Citizens United Tony Perkins: Overturning Citizens United Will Anger The Founding Fathers <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_teaser_astory" width="390" height="250" alt="" src="" /> <p>Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council thinks the Founding Fathers would be upset by the push to overturn the Supreme Court&rsquo;s 2010&nbsp;<em>Citizens United</em> ruling, warning on &ldquo;<a href="">Washington Watch</a>&rdquo; yesterday that a <a href="">constitutional amendment</a> would be &ldquo;dangerous&rdquo; to the country.</p> <p>Perkins said amendment supporters &ldquo;think they know better than the Founding Fathers&rdquo; and seek to &ldquo;rewrite the First Amendment to essentially silence political speech and strip it out of the First Amendment.&rdquo;</p> <p>He said he can&rsquo;t believe anyone would support an amendment to allow voters to pass campaign finance regulations, even though a majority of voters, including Republicans, support an amendment [<a href="">PDF</a>].</p> <p align="center"><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="" width="100%"></iframe></p> <p>Perkins previously claimed that overturning <em>Citizens United</em> <a href="">is a sign of anti-Christian persecution</a>, even going so far as to <a href="">link the effort to the imprisonment of a Christian Sudanese woman</a>.</p> Brian Tashman C4 Citizens United Tony Perkins Fighting the Right 48232 Tue, 09 Sep 2014 14:15:23 -0500 Citizens United FRC Claims Citizens United Repeal Would 'Muzzle The Christian Viewpoint' <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_teaser_astory" width="390" height="250" alt="" src="" /> <p>In a <a href="">fundraising email</a> today, FRC Action &mdash; the Family Research Council&rsquo;s political arm &mdash; announced that it is &ldquo;working closely with Senator Ted Cruz to take the lead&rdquo; in opposing a<a href=""> proposed constitutional amendment</a> to roll back Citizens United and related Supreme Court rulings that struck down federal campaign finance rules.</p> <p>FRC president Tony Perkins has also picked up <a href="">Cruz&rsquo;s talking points about the subject</a>, claiming in the email that an amendment restoring the power of Congress to regulate election spending would &ldquo;scrap&rdquo; the First Amendment and ultimately allow liberals to &ldquo;quash our freedom of speech; to silence our calls for liberty and self-government; to muzzle the Christian viewpoint; to make the debate totally one-sided; to brainwash the next generation into believing that this is how it should be.&rdquo;</p> <p>In reality, the amendment would return to Congress and state governments the ability to place reasonable regulations on campaign spending, <a href=""> a power they had until very recently</a>.</p> <blockquote> <p>I thought I'd seen it all.</p> <p>I thought the First Amendment was settled. I thought freedom of speech -- the fundamental bulwark of liberty at the very heart of our republic -- was so basic to our American way of life, no liberal would have the audacity to suggest scrapping it.</p> <p>But I was wrong.</p> <p>&hellip;</p> <p>It's utterly outrageous to suggest gutting the First Amendment. It is critically important to our national life. Freedom of speech, especially political speech, sets us apart from most other countries in the world. It keeps liberty alive.</p> <p>It seems Democrats want "free speech" to consist only of government-authorized speech.</p> <p>They claim they want to cut back on the influence of "special interests" in election campaigns. But of course, the "special interests" they want to silence are organizations like FRC Action. They want to muzzle you and me.</p> <p>This is not about "election accountability." This is a naked power grab.</p> <p>This amendment to the Constitution would give the foxes the keys to the henhouse. Those in power -- whom FRC Action is committed to holding accountable -- would now have the ability to silence us, to gag us, to strip us of our right to fully engage in the political process.</p> <p>Interestingly, if such a far-fetched alteration of our Constitution were to actually take place, there is a particularly strong group that would be protected -- the press! Democrats' liberal allies in the mainstream media would retain their free political speech, while organizations like FRC Action would lose theirs.</p> <p>Maybe you're thinking: they can't seriously think such a proposal would make it through Congress. And you would be right: they don't.</p> <p>This is a bald-faced tactic for firing up the Democrats' base -- to get more liberal voters to swarm the polls in the midterm elections this November.</p> <p>But if we remain silent, if we simply sit and roll our eyes at the absurdity of it all . . . liberals in Congress will be emboldened to keep pushing in this deadly direction.</p> <p>The Left would love nothing more than to quash our freedom of speech; to silence our calls for liberty and self-government; to muzzle the Christian viewpoint; to make the debate totally one-sided; to brainwash the next generation into believing that this is how it should be.</p> <p>We're working closely with Senator Ted Cruz to take the lead in exposing this outrage and in challenging any attempt to rewrite our Bill of Rights.</p> </blockquote> Miranda Blue C4 Citizens United Government By the People money in politics Ted Cruz Tony Perkins Family Research Council 47881 Thu, 07 Aug 2014 15:13:55 -0500 Citizens United Barton: Harry Reid Supports Citizens United Amendment Because He Is An 'Atheist Mormon' <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_teaser_astory" width="390" height="250" alt="" src="" /> <p>Ever since Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., proposed a constitutional amendment designed to restore to Congress and state governments the ability to regulate the raising and spending of money in elections, Republicans and conservatives have <a href="">absurdly</a> been decrying it as an effort to <a href="">gut the First Amendment</a>.</p> <p>On today's "WallBuilders Live" radio <a href="">program</a>, David Barton attacked Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid for supporting this amendment, saying that his support for it proves that Reid is "an atheist Mormon" who doesn't realize that he will one day have to answer to God for trampling all over our God-given rights:</p> <p align="center"><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="" width="100%"></iframe></p> <blockquote> <p><strong>Barton</strong>: He has actually proposed an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would re-write the First Amendment to take away original protections and limit the protections in the First Amendment.</p> <p>...</p> <p>What it also tells me is, and he's apparently a Mormon guy, that's fine. He is probably an atheist Mormon, Mormon in name only and the reason I say that is that so many Mormon folks are so conservative on the Constitution and such great defenders ... And so, when you look at what he's doing, the Bill of Rights is laid out in the Declaration of Independence, you start with the first belief that there's a Creator, the second belief that the Creator gives us certain inalienable rights, the third belief in the Declaration is that government exists to protect those rights inalienable rights.</p> <p>So eleven years later when the Founding Fathers did the Bill of Rights they said, hey, these are those rights that we were talking about that the government is not allowed to touch because these come from the Creator and government exists to protect rights from the Creator. So that's why we've never messed with the Bill of Rights because they were always off limits to government because they came from God directly to man, they did not go through government to get here.</p> <p>...</p> <p>If you don't have the belief that you will answer to God for what you do, you will sell your country, you will sell your kids' future, you will sell everything going on and that's where we're getting.&nbsp; And so it's not just a belief in God, it's the belief that you answer to God and you believe that, and see that's where Harry Reid is not. You know, he may believe in God, he probably says he does; I don't think he has any cognizance of having to answer to God for what he does.</p> </blockquote> Kyle Mantyla Citizens United David Barton Harry Reid Wallbuilders C3 Fighting the Right 47461 Thu, 03 Jul 2014 13:18:42 -0500 Citizens United The 10 Most Absurd Arguments Against The Udall Citizens United Amendment <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_teaser_astory" width="390" height="250" alt="" src="" /> <p>While good-government groups have been <a href=""> calling for a constitutional amendment </a> to reverse the Supreme Court&rsquo;s dismantling of campaign finance laws <a href=""> since the day the Court handed down Citizens United </a> in 2010, the issue has been largely off the radar of conservative activists &ndash; and has actually enjoyed broad bipartisan support in an&nbsp;<a href="">array</a>&nbsp;<a href="">of</a>&nbsp;<a href="">polls</a> and in&nbsp;<a href="">state and municipal ballot measures</a>.</p> <p>It was largely off their radar, that is, until this week. This morning, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on a <a href=""> proposal by Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M</a>., to send a constitutional amendment to the states restoring to Congress and state governments the ability to regulate the raising and spending of money in elections. In response, Republican politicians and conservative activists have kicked into gear and are starting to try out new talking points to get their movement to oppose efforts to lessen the influence of big money in politics.</p> <p>Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, launched the misleading campaign two weeks ago when <a href="">he warned a group of pastors</a> that the Udall proposal would &ldquo;repeal the First Amendment&rdquo; and allow Congress to &ldquo;muzzle&rdquo; the free speech of clergy. In advance of the hearing today, conservative groups including the <a href="">Family Research Council</a>, <a href=""> Eagle Forum</a>, <a href="">Tea Party Patriots</a>&nbsp;and&nbsp;the <a href="">Home School Legal Defense Association</a> started to mobilize against the amendment. Yesterday, the Heritage Foundation held a <a href="">panel discussion</a> to test out arguments against the amendment, featuring Bobby Burchfield, the attorney who argued the McCutcheon case before the Supreme Court, <a href=""> controversial former FEC chairman Don McGahn</a>, and <a href=""> infamous voter-fraud conspiracy theorist Hans van Spakovsky </a> .</p> <p>Here, we&rsquo;ve collected some of the most deceptive arguments that have been launched so far against the Udall amendment.</p> <p><strong>1.</strong> <strong> Democrats want to repeal the First Amendment!</strong></p> <p>When we first heard Ted Cruz &nbsp;tell a stunned group of pastors that Democrats in the Senate were planning to &ldquo;<a href="">repeal the First Amendment</a>,&rdquo; we knew that we would be hearing that line again and again.</p> <p align="center"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="560"></iframe></p> <p>And we were right. Tea Party Patriots <a href="">adopted the line</a> in mobilizing its activists, <a href=""> as did the Eagle Forum</a>. The Family Research Council claimed the Udall amendment would &ldquo;<a href="">strip political speech out of the First Amendment</a>,&rdquo; and von Spakovsky <a href="">told the Heritage panel </a>that the amendment would &ldquo;roll back&rdquo; the Bill of Rights.</p> <p>Burchfield and McGahn both argued that the introduction of the constitutional amendment means, in the words of McGahn, that campaign finance law advocates are &ldquo;admitting&rdquo; that campaign finance regulations are &ldquo;unconstitutional.&rdquo;</p> <p>On the surface, this is the opposition&rsquo;s strongest argument, because it sounds so scary. But it&rsquo;s just not true. Whether you support the Udall amendment or not, it&rsquo;s dishonest to suggest that it would amount to a &ldquo;repeal of the First Amendment.&rdquo; Instead, proponents argue that it strengthens the First Amendment by <a href=""> undoing the Supreme Court&rsquo;s jurisprudence </a> declaring that spending on elections, including from corporate treasuries, cannot be limited. Proponents of the Udall amendment hold that this jurisprudence, including recent decisions in the Citizens United and McCutcheon cases, represented a <a href=""> radical reinterpretation of the First Amendment</a>; undoing them would simply re-establish the ability of Congress and the states to set reasonable regulations on the raising and spending of money to influence elections.</p> <p><strong>2.</strong> <strong> Amendment supporters want to &lsquo;silence critics&rsquo; and &lsquo;cling to power&rsquo;!</strong></p> <p>The<a href=""> Heritage panelists</a> repeatedly claimed that the Udall amendment is an attempt to protect incumbency by preventing challengers from raising enough money to win elections. McGahn insisted that it was an effort by Democratic incumbents &ldquo;desperately clinging to power.&rdquo;</p> <p>&ldquo;They want to change the rules of the game and prevent people from criticizing them, not unlike England did before our revolution, and which led to our revolution,&rdquo; he added.</p> <p>The American Family Association&rsquo;s Sandy Rios also invoked the American Revolution in an <a href="">interview with von Spakovsky yesterday</a>, saying, &ldquo;The First Amendment, the rights to free speech &ndash; particularly the right to political speech &ndash; were the right to criticize the king, criticize the authorities over you.&rdquo;</p> <p>In a later interview with Rios, Tea Party Patriots spokesman Scott Hogenson even managed to connect the Udall amendment with immigration reform, claiming that both are part of a &ldquo;larger, concerted effort to maintain the Democratic Party&rsquo;s control of American politics and eventually move to one-party rule.&rdquo;</p> <p align="center""><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="" width="100%"></iframe></p> <p>In reality, it&rsquo;s unlimited campaign spending that tends to be a boon for incumbents, who on average are <a href="">able to raise far more than challengers</a>. For instance, in Texas, a state with few campaign finance limits, incumbents who win on average raise more than twelve times the average amount raised by challengers. By contrast, in Colorado, which has relatively low individual contribution limits, incumbents on average raise less than three times what challengers are able to raise [<a href="">pdf</a>].</p> <p><strong>3.</strong> <strong> Liberals just want to protect the lame-stream media!</strong></p> <p>In his speech to the pastors' group, Ted Cruz seized on the <a href="">Udall proposal&rsquo;s stipulation</a> that &ldquo;Nothing in this article shall be construed to grant Congress the power to abridge the freedom of the press&rdquo; to <a href="">claim that the amendment carved out an exemption to protect the New York Times</a>.</p> <p>Von Spakovsky also played up conservative conspiracy theories about the &ldquo;liberal media,&rdquo; <a href=""> telling Rios</a>, &ldquo;No surprise, there&rsquo;s a glaring exception in this proposed amendment for the press. And that means that MSNBC or the New York Times Company, which are big corporations, they could spend as much newsprint or airtime as they wanted going after and criticizing candidates or talking about political issues.&rdquo;</p> <p>These arguments fail to recognize one key distinction, which is that there is a difference between the New York Times publishing an editorial (which would be protected under the proposed amendment, as it is now) and the corporate managers of the New York Times taking $50 million out of their corporate treasury to buy ads to influence an election (which would not be protected).</p> <p><strong>4.</strong> <strong> They&rsquo;ll go after pastors!</strong></p> <p>Opponents of the constitutional amendment have also been trying to tie the proposal to the right-wing paranoia about the <a href=""> impending persecution of America&rsquo;s Christian majority </a> .</p> <p>It&rsquo;s no coincidence that Cruz rolled out his criticism of the Udall proposal at a pastors&rsquo; event organized by the Family Research Council, a main theme of which was the supposed assault on the religious liberty of Christians in America. Cruz <a href="">told the pastors</a> that the Udall measure would &ldquo;muzzle&rdquo; clergy and was being proposed because &ldquo;they don&rsquo;t like it when pastors in their community stand up and speak the truth.&rdquo;</p> <p>Likewise, McGahn said at the Heritage event that the amendment would endanger the religious liberty of clergy: &ldquo;What about pastors and churches? This is an issue that comes up once in a while. Can the government get in there and tell a priest he can&rsquo;t talk to his congregation because it may somehow have something to do with politics?&rdquo;</p> <p>This might be true if the proposal would, in fact, &ldquo;repeal the First Amendment.&rdquo; In fact, the First Amendment&rsquo;s protection of religious liberty would remain in place.</p> <p>Of course, that didn&rsquo;t stop the FRC&rsquo;s Tony Perkins from somehow <a href=""> linking the Udall amendment </a> to the imprisonment of a Christian woman in Sudan:</p> <p align="center"><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="" width="100%"></iframe></p> <p><strong>5.</strong> <strong> It&rsquo;s like the Alien & Sedition Acts!</strong></p> <p>Along with comparisons to British control before the American Revolution, amendment opponents are trying to link the Udall proposal to the 18<sup>th</sup> century <a href="">Alien & Sedition Acts</a>.</p> <p>In his interview with Rios yesterday, van Spakovsky <a href="">claimed</a> that &ldquo;the last time Congress tried to do something like this was when they passed the Alien & Sedition Act in 1798 that criminalized criticism of the government.&rdquo; Multiple GOP senators at today&rsquo;s hearing, including Judiciary Committeee Ranking Member Chuck Grassley, repeated the talking point.</p> <p>Of course, the amendment does nothing to reduce the right of individuals to criticize the government or politicians.</p> <p><strong>6.</strong> <strong> The polls are skewed!</strong></p> <p>When an audience member at yesterday&rsquo;s Heritage Foundation panel asked about polls showing overwhelming opposition to the Citizens United decision, McGahn replied that the questions in the polls were &ldquo;skewed.&rdquo;</p> <p>You can judge for yourself whether this question from a recent <a href=""> Greenberg Quinlan Rosner poll&nbsp;</a>&nbsp;&ndash; which found 80 percent opposition to the Citizens United decision&nbsp;&nbsp;&ndash;&nbsp;is &ldquo;skewed&rdquo; on behalf of campaign finance law proponents:</p> <p align="center"><img alt="" src="" style="width: 502px; height: 174px;" /></p> <p>(<a href="">image via Buzzfeed</a>)</p> <p><strong>7.</strong> <strong> What about disclosure?</strong></p> <p>In one of the least self-aware moments we&rsquo;ve witnessed in the last few days, McGahn told the Heritage audience that campaign finance reform proponents could have just worked for tougher disclosure requirements, which the Supreme Court&rsquo;s majority has consistently endorsed as a way to prevent corruption:</p> <blockquote> <p>What&rsquo;s interesting is the courts have upheld some disclosure of independent speech, which six months ago was supposed to be the answer, a year ago was supposed to be the answer &ndash; remember the DISCLOSE Act, Part 1 and Part 2? Well, that was supposed to cure all the ills in our democracy, but unfortunately I guess they&rsquo;ve given up on that and they&rsquo;ve moved to the more radical change, which is the constitutional amendment.</p> </blockquote> <p>Of course, the DISCLOSE Act &ndash; which would have exposed the source of some of the &ldquo;dark money&rdquo; behind large campaign expenditures &ndash; was <a href="">blocked by Senate Republicans.</a> And McGahn, when he was at the FEC, <a href="">fought hard against disclosure requirements</a> proposed in the wake of the Citizens United decision, even though the decision&nbsp;<a href="">explicitly sanctioned such requirements.</a></p> <p><strong>8. The poor don&rsquo;t participate anyway!</strong></p> <p>Speaking to the Heritage audience, Burchfield &nbsp;presented the curious argument that the Udall amendment would demand to "equalize debate among the haves and have-nots,&rdquo; and since &ldquo;the portion is small&rdquo; of &ldquo;those with limited means&rdquo; who participate in electoral debates, this would require &ldquo;severe restrictions.&rdquo;</p> <blockquote> <p>The rich do not advocate a single viewpoint. Think of Sheldon Adelson and George Soros, they don&rsquo;t agree on anything. There are strong voices on the left and on the right, not just in privately funded campaign advertisements, but also in the broadcast and print media.&nbsp;<strong>Only a small portion of those with significant resources even bother to participate in the debate. And among those with limited means, the portion is small indeed. In order to equalize debate among the haves and the have-nots, severe restrictions would be necessary.</strong>&nbsp;The quantity and quality of discourse would certainly suffer.</p> </blockquote> <p>The amendment under consideration doesn&rsquo;t require that everybody be heard an equal amount; instead, it gives Congress and the states the ability to create a more even platform for those who wish to be heard, regardless of their financial means. &nbsp;</p> <p>Burchfield's reasoning echoes the arguments of voter-suppression proponents who claim that their laws only inconvenience people who <a href="">don&rsquo;t really care about voting anyway</a>.</p> <p><strong>9.</strong> <strong> It&rsquo;s voter suppression!</strong></p> <p>Although many of the advocates of unlimited, undisclosed money in politics are the <a href="">same people pushing harmful voter suppression laws</a>, Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas <a href=""> yesterday insisted </a> that it&rsquo;s actually amendment proponents who are advocating &ldquo;voter suppression&rdquo; and want to &ldquo;silence&rdquo; critics.</p> <p align="center"><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="" width="100%"></iframe></p> <p><strong>10.</strong> <strong> Blame Saul Alinsky!</strong></p> <p>Inevitably, anti-amendment activists have begun invoking the right-wing bogey-man Saul Alinsky.</p> <p>Hogenson <a href="">told Rios</a> that the Udall amendment is &ldquo;just taken right out of Saul Alinksy&rsquo;s book, &lsquo;Rules for Radicals,&rsquo; it just makes up a gigantic lie and perpetuates it, that somehow democracy needs to be restored.&rdquo;</p> <p>Von Spakovsky <a href="">also invoked Alinsky</a> in his interview with Rios, claiming that criticism of the enormous political spending of the Koch brothers is an Alinskyite plot: &ldquo;What&rsquo;s really going on here is, look, if you look at Alinsky&rsquo;s &lsquo;Rules for Radicals,&rsquo; one of the rules that he sets out is you pick a villain and you basically blame those villains for all of the problems. It&rsquo;s a way of distracting the public, it&rsquo;s a way of diverting attention, and that&rsquo;s exactly what Harry Reid and the Democrats are doing here.&rdquo;</p> Miranda Blue American Family Association Bobby Burchfield C4 Citizens United Don McGahn Government By the People Hans von Spakovsky Heritage Foundation Home School Legal Defense Association Pat Roberts Ted Cruz Tony Perkins Eagle Forum Family Research Council Fair and Just Courts 47053 Tue, 03 Jun 2014 15:51:21 -0500 Citizens United Tony Perkins Links Effort To Overturn Citizens United To Imprisonment Of Christian Sudanese Woman <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_teaser_astory" width="390" height="250" alt="" src="" /> <p>On Friday, Family Research Council president Tony Perkins &mdash; <a href="">who earlier last week managed to connect the Isla Vista shooting to the Affordable Care Act</a> &mdash; tied the imprisonment of a Sudanese Christian woman to a Senate hearing on a <a href="">constitutional amendment to overturn the Supreme Court&rsquo;s decision in <em>Citizens United</em></a>, a ruling which allowed for unrestricted, undisclosed corporate political donations.</p> <p>Speaking on his radio program, &ldquo;<a href="">Washington Watch</a>,&rdquo; Perkins chastised Democratic leaders like Chuck Schumer &mdash; who Perkins said &ldquo;thinks he understands freedom better than America&rsquo;s Bill of Rights&rdquo; &mdash; and Mark Udall for opposing the Supreme Court&rsquo;s 2010 decision.</p> <p>&ldquo;The National Archives will need more than bombproofing to protect America&rsquo;s founding documents,&rdquo; he warned. Perkins then invited Sen. Pat Roberts onto the show to discuss the proposed amendment.</p> <p>The Kansas Republican thanked Perkins for not only defending Citizens United but also bringing attention to the imprisonment of Meriam Yehya Ibrahim, a Sudanese woman married to an American who is in jail in Sudan for converting to Christianity. Perkins replied that the two cases are actually related: &ldquo;The two of them are very connected. In our First Amendment we have our freedom of religion and freedom of speech and we keep our freedom of religion by working to keep our freedom of speech, and political speech is actually what&rsquo;s under attack here.&rdquo;</p> <p>Roberts accused Senate Democrats of trying to &ldquo;restrict the free speech of those who simply disagree with them.&rdquo;</p> <p align="center"><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="" width="100%"></iframe></p> <p>Later, Roberts said supporters of a constitutional amendment like Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid seek to &ldquo;regulate free speech so they can silence their critics and retain their hold on power.&rdquo;</p> <p>&ldquo;This is voter suppression, this is to silence his critics,&rdquo; he said.</p> <p align="center"><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="" width="100%"></iframe></p> Brian Tashman C4 Citizens United Pat Roberts Tony Perkins Family Research Council Fighting the Right 47037 Mon, 02 Jun 2014 14:55:05 -0500 Citizens United Supreme Court's McCutcheon Decision Is Great News For Billionaires <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_teaser_astory" width="390" height="250" alt="" src="" /> <p><em>This post originally appeared on the <a href="">People For blog</a>.</em></p> <p>The Supreme Court's <em>McCutcheon</em> opinion, released this morning, is another 5-4 body blow to our democracy. To justify striking down limits that cap aggregate campaign contributions during a single election cycle, the Roberts Court ignores the way the world really works and makes it far more difficult to justify much-needed protections against those who would purchase our elections and elected officials.</p> <p>Americans are deeply concerned that control of our elections and our government is being usurped by a tiny sliver of extremely wealthy and powerful individuals (and the corporations they control). That is not the democracy that our Constitution established and protects. The enormous impact of money in politics can destroy a democracy, undermining its foundations by disconnecting elected officials from the people they are supposed to serve and eroding the trust of the people in their system of government.</p> <p>But the Roberts Court today stressed that campaign contributions can be justified under the First Amendment only if they address "quid pro quo" corruption &ndash; i.e. bribery &ndash; despite contrary pre-<em>Citizens United</em> holdings with a broader and more realistic vision. A democratic system rotting at its core &ndash; a government of, by, and for the wealthy &ndash; is not corrupt in their eyes.</p> <p>If a wealthy person gives millions of dollars to a party (distributed to the party's multiple candidates and PACs across the country), he clearly exercises enormous influence over the laws that get passed. What the voters want becomes far less relevant, because it's the billionaire whose money is vital to getting elected. A government where elected officials allow a few plutocrats to have enormous access and influence over their policies is not an indication of a healthy government of, by, and for the people.</p> <p>As Justice Breyer write in his <em>McCutcheon </em>dissent:</p> <blockquote> Today a majority of the Court overrules this holding [Buckley's 1976 upholding of aggregate limits]. It is wrong to do so. Its conclusion rests upon its own, not a record-based, view of the facts. Its legal analysis is faulty: It misconstrues the nature of the competing constitutional interests at stake. It understates the importance of protecting the political integrity of our governmental institutions. It creates a loophole that will allow a single individual to contribute millions of dollars to a political party or to a candidate's campaign. Taken together with Citizens United v. Federal Election Comm'n, 558 U. S. 310 (2010), today's decision eviscerates our Nation's campaign finance laws, leaving a remnant incapable of dealing with the grave problems of democratic legitimacy that those laws were intended to resolve.</blockquote> <p>Americans are organizing around the country to restore our democracy in light of <em>Citizens United</em> and other dangerous court opinions. Today's McCutcheon opinion gives us another reason to rally.</p> <p>Last year, <a href="">People For the American Way Foundation released an analysis of <em>McCutcheon</em></a> within the context of the Supreme Court's past rulings on campaign finance.</p> Paul Gordon C4 Citizens United John Roberts McCutcheon v. FEC Supreme Court Fighting the Right 46347 Wed, 02 Apr 2014 14:05:35 -0500 Citizens United The Spirit Of Selma: Moral March In Raleigh, NC <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_teaser_astory" width="390" height="250" alt="" src="" /> <p>The Supreme Court&rsquo;s <em>Citizens United</em> decision and related rulings undermining the nation&rsquo;s campaign finance laws opened the doors to massive corporate and right-wing spending. Nowhere have the results been more catastrophic than in North Carolina, where a right-wing takeover subjected state residents to an avalanche of far-right legislation targeting children, teachers, voting rights, and more.</p> <p>Last year PFAW&rsquo;s Miranda Blue and Calvin Sloan <a href="">documented</a> the far-right takeover of state politics that was funded by billionaire <a href="">Art Pope</a> with the help of GOP strategist and current U.S. Senate candidate from Virginia, Ed Gillespie.&nbsp; In 2012, Pope and his allies poured millions of dollars into elections for the state legislature and millions more to elect Gov. Pat McCrory.&nbsp;</p> <p>Once they got into power, with Pope himself installed as McCrory&rsquo;s budget director, North Carolina citizens were subjected to the full fury of a far-right, Tea Party-on-steroids legislative agenda. Education spending was slashed and thousands of teachers fired while tax dollars were diverted to school vouchers.</p> <p>Hundreds of thousands of citizens were denied Medicaid and unemployment benefits while taxes were cut for the state&rsquo;s richest residents. And in order to perpetuate the power of Pope&rsquo;s puppets, one of the nation&rsquo;s worst, most restrictive voting laws was put into place to disenfranchise voters, with an <a href="">assist</a> from the Supreme Court&rsquo;s gutting of a key section of the Voting Rights Act.</p> <p>But North Carolina has not given Americans only a terrifying look at what a Tea Party-run country would look like. It has also given us an inspiring example of grassroots organizing on behalf of a very different set of values.&nbsp; Led by Rev. William Barber, head of the state&rsquo;s NAACP chapter, North Carolinans began &ldquo;Moral Mondays&rdquo; protests at the state capitol. They were dismissed as &ldquo;morons&rdquo; and outside agitators by right-wing legislators. One of Pope&rsquo;s right-wing groups published personal information of protestors online.</p> <p>But those efforts did nothing to squelch the Moral Mondays movement, which drew thousands of people to the weekly protests.&nbsp; Hundreds were arrested for nonviolent civil disobedience.</p> <p>Now Barber and the diverse coalition he leads have put out a call to people across North Carolina and the rest of the country to come to Raleigh on February 8 for what they hope will become the largest civil rights gathering in the south since an interfaith, interracial group of people responded to Dr. King&rsquo;s call to join civil rights marchers in Selma.</p> <p>On Tuesday, Rev. Barber spoke to bloggers about Moral Mondays, the February 8 march, and the values-based &ldquo;fusion&rdquo; organizing that is sustaining the pro-justice movement in North Carolina. If you&rsquo;re going to change America, he said, you have to change the south &ndash; with broad-based, locally led movements in every state.&nbsp;</p> <p>Barber emphasized that his movement was not partisan &ndash; that many independents and Republicans have joined in the Moral Mondays protests against the extremist and unjust laws passed by the far-right faction that now runs the state government. What motivates the new coalition, Barber said, is a combination of the constitutional principle of the common good and the biblical principle of caring for the vulnerable. A few days before the march, a policy briefing will examine the moral, economic, political and social costs of the state&rsquo;s regressive legislation.</p> <p>One goal of turning February 8 into a national event, Barber said, is to discourage right-wing strategists who hope to duplicate Pope&rsquo;s takeover and subsequent imposition of extreme policies that Barber describes as &ldquo;constitutionally inconsistent, morally indefensible, and economically insane.&rdquo;</p> <p>You can find out more about the February 8 march at the event <a href="">website</a>.</p> Peter Montgomery Art Pope Citizens United Moral Mondays NAACP North Carolina Rev. William Barber Voting Rights Fighting the Right The Right to Vote 45471 Tue, 21 Jan 2014 16:34:16 -0500 Citizens United How Big Money Bought North Carolina for Extremists <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_teaser_astory" width="390" height="250" alt="" src="" /> <p><strong><em>by Miranda Blue and Calvin Sloan</em></strong></p> <p>In his 2010 majority opinion in <em>Citizens United v. FEC</em>, the case that opened the floodgates to limitless independent election spending by corporations and the wealthy, Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote that independent spending in elections &ldquo;[does] not give rise to corruption or the appearance of corruption.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> What has happened in the state of North Carolina since Justice Kennedy wrote those words illustrates just how misguided he was.<br /> <br /> In the years since <em>Citizens United</em>, North Carolina has provided a clear example of what happens when a small number of corporate interests, allied with a far-right base, are allowed unbridled influence over elections. Since 2010, one North Carolina multimillionaire has marshaled the funds for a Republican takeover of the statehouse and governor&rsquo;s mansion, leading to a slew of far-right legislation cutting benefits for working people, lowering teacher salaries, denying Medicaid coverage to half a million low-income people, defunding public education, eliminating protections against racial discrimination in the criminal justice system, gutting gun violence prevention efforts, attacking religious freedom and threatening women&rsquo;s reproductive rights &ndash; all while cutting taxes for corporations and the wealthy.<br /> <br /> This effort has gone hand in hand with a concerted attack on the very mechanisms of democracy in North Carolina. Since coming into power, Republicans in North Carolina have launched one of the country&rsquo;s broadest attacks on voting rights, decimated the state&rsquo;s campaign finance disclosure laws and contribution limits, heavily gerrymandered congressional districts, and politicized judicial elections.<br /> <br /> These attacks strike at the foundation of democracy &ndash; the guarantee of one person, one vote &ndash; and serve as a cynical insurance policy for an agenda that serves the interests of those few who can afford influence in the new climate of pay-to-play elections.<br /> <br /> A series of Supreme Court decisions deregulating money in politics, combined with the political marriage of the Tea Party and the corporate right, have created a climate where moneyed interests can hold sway over how a state holds its elections, who wins those elections and what those elected officials do once in office. North Carolina provides a case study of what can happen when the financial interests of a wealthy elite are allowed to drown out the voices of ordinary voters.<br /> <br /> <strong>Buying North Carolina</strong><br /> <br /> North Carolina&rsquo;s post-<em>Citizens United</em> Republican takeover has been largely financed by one man: retail magnate Arthur (Art) Pope.<br /> <br /> When the Supreme Court handed down <em>Citizens United i</em>n January 2010, states went to work to comply with the Court&rsquo;s order vacating all federal and state bans on independent corporate expenditures in elections. In July of that year, North Carolina&rsquo;s legislature passed the &ldquo;Citizens United Response&rdquo; bill, which was enacted just before the 2010 elections and opened the door to corporate election spending. Meanwhile, according to Bob Hall, Executive Director of <a href="">Democracy North Carolina</a>, <em>Citizens United</em> led to a cultural shift that &ldquo;provided a green light to financial interests to feel blessed by the Supreme Court to spend in elections.&rdquo; The result was that outside spending in North Carolina&rsquo;s elections<a href=""> increased by 400 percent from 2006 to 2010</a>. And nobody took greater advantage of the new rules than Art Pope.<br /> <br /> <em>The New Yorker</em>&rsquo;s Jane Mayer reported in 2011 that a few months after <em>Citizens United</em>, Pope <a href="">received a visit</a> from Republican strategist Ed Gillespie, who was formulating a plan to strategically take over statehouses prior to congressional redistricting. Pope contributed some money directly to candidates, but his real impact came from the establishment of a handful of outside groups that were newly freed from outside spending limits. These groups, like the 501c(4) organization &ldquo;Civitas Action,&rdquo; spent <a href="">$2.2 million over 22 state legislative races</a>, 18 of which they won. <a href="">Three-quarters of all outside money</a> in state races that year came from groups linked to Pope. In the post-<em>Citizens United</em> election landscape, one man almost single-handedly succeeded in flipping party control of the state legislature.<br /> <br /> Mayer documents the many <a href="">misleading attacks</a> that Pope&rsquo;s groups used to unseat moderate Democrats in the state legislature. One Democrat who narrowly lost his seat after a Pope-funded onslaught of attack ads<a href=""> said</a>, &ldquo;I don&rsquo;t feel like I was defeated by the person I was running against. I was defeated by Art Pope and his cronies, who bought themselves a legislature.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> In 2012, Pope and his cronies doubled down. That year, as documented by the <a href="">Institute for Southern Studies</a>, <a href="">70 percent of the $14.5 million</a> spent by outside groups on state-level races in North Carolina went to benefit Republicans. $8.1 million of that was spent to elect Republican governor Pat McCrory; <a href="">more than half of that </a>came from the national Republican Governors Association, which itself is<a href=""> partly financed by Pope corporations</a>.<br /> <br /> In two years, thanks to an unprecedented flood of outside spending by moneyed interests, Republicans took control of both houses of North Carolina&rsquo;s legislature and its governor&rsquo;s mansion. And the funders of the effort began to get what they paid for.<br /> <br /> <strong>Tax Cuts for the Wealthy, Salary Cuts for Teachers</strong><br /> <br /> A few weeks before the newly-elected Gov. McCrory was to take office, he announced a <a href="">notable appointment to his cabinet</a>: Art Pope.<br /> <br /> McCrory named Pope his head of budget policy, charged with writing the governor&rsquo;s budget proposal. McCrory and Pope, with the cooperation of the newly right-wing legislature, went about cutting the safety net for struggling North Carolinians while heaping tax cuts on the wealthy and corporations. McCrory signed laws <a href="">cutting off unemployment benefit</a>s for tens of thousands of people in the state, in what US Representative David Price (D-NC) called&nbsp; &ldquo;one of the most extreme and damaging acts I have seen in my time in government." He<a href=""> cut pay for public school teachers</a>. He refused expanded federal Medicaid funds under the Affordable Care Act, <a href="">denying half a million low-income people access to health care coverage</a>.<br /> <br /> But there wasn&rsquo;t bad news for everyone in North Carolina. On July 23, 2013 McCrory <a href="">signed a new tax plan</a> that dramatically lowered corporate income taxes and created a flat tax, which raised taxes on some families and small businesses while heaping the bulk of its benefits on the state&rsquo;s wealthiest families. And, in one of his first orders of business upon taking office, McCrory bestowed<a href=""> salary hikes on members of his own cabinet</a>.<br /> <br /> <strong>An Extreme Agenda</strong><br /> <br /> While Pope and his fellow funders of North Carolina&rsquo;s Republican takeover may have been mostly interested in creating fiscal policy that would benefit their own bank accounts, there was a powerful corollary to their efforts. In a solidly purple state that wavers between parties in presidential elections, Pope helped create one of the most far-right state legislatures in the country. And, thanks to Pope and his cronies&rsquo; efforts to elect McCrory, the legislature&rsquo;s forays into Tea Party extremism go largely unchecked.<br /> <br /> Since the 2010 Republican takeover of the North Carolina legislature, a number of extreme social policies have become law.</p> <ul> <li> In 2009, the North Carolina legislature, in an effort to combat persistent racial disparities in death penalty sentencing, <a href="">passed a bill</a> that would commute a death penalty sentence to life imprisonment if the defendant could prove that race played a significant role in his sentencing. The bill was featured in <a href="">Willie Horton-style racist attack ads</a> against at least one state legislator unseated in 2010. In 2013, the legislature repealed the law, and Gov. McCrory <a href="">added his signature on Juneteenth</a>.</li> <li> In August of this year, North Carolina became the seventh state to pass a<a href=""> bill aimed at the imaginary threat of Sharia law</a> in the U.S. justice system &ndash; a cover for blatant anti-Muslim fearmongering.</li> <li> In July, the legislature passed and McCrory signed a law allowing people to carry concealed weapons into <a href="">playgrounds, parks, some places on college campuses&hellip;.and bars</a>.</li> <li> Finally, in July, Gov. McCrory signed into law <a href="">one of the most restrictive anti-choice laws in the country</a> &ndash; despite a <a href="">campaign promise </a>that he would not back any new laws restricting abortion rights. The provisions, which were <a href="">hidden in a motorcycle safety bill</a>,&nbsp; impose unnecessary <a href="">&ldquo;TRAP&rdquo; regulations</a> on abortion providers in the state, <a href="">threating to close most of the state&rsquo;s 16 abortion providers</a>.</li> </ul> <p><strong>Undermining Democracy</strong><br /> <br /> The right-wing takeover of North Carolina has come with an insurance policy: a slew of laws taking power away from individual voters and putting it in the hands of campaign donors.<br /> <br /> In July, the North Carolina legislature passed what election law expert Rick Hasen<a href=""> called</a> &ldquo;the most sweeping anti-voter law in at least decades.&rdquo; The new law requires voters to present one of a<a href=""> narrow set of IDs</a> in order to cast a ballot &ndash; IDs that 318,000 registered voters in the state don&rsquo;t have. It cuts the number of early voting days and eliminates same-day voter registration during early voting, an option disproportionately used by<a href=""> African American voters.</a> The bill invalidates ballots accidentally cast in the wrong precinct. It attacks the voting rights of young people, by eliminating pre-registration for 16- and 17-year olds, and of the elderly and disabled, by making it more difficult to establish satellite polling sites.<br /> <br /> But the law doesn&rsquo;t just make it harder for ordinary North Carolinians to vote. It also makes it <a href="">much easier for moneyed interests to influence elections</a>. The bill increased campaign contribution limits, repealed three public financing programs and &ndash; good news for Art Pope &ndash; weakened transparency requirements for outside spenders in elections.<br /> <br /> Pope&rsquo;s influence was particularly visible in the repeal of the popular program<a href=""> providing public financing for judicial elections</a>. Until this year, North Carolina had for a decade maintained a <a href="">nationally renowned clean elections program for judges</a>, a voluntary public financing fund used by 80 percent of judicial candidates across the political spectrum. In June, after Republicans in the state legislature took aim at the program, a Republican legislator came up with a compromise to save the clean judicial elections. But Pope <a href="">single-handedly convinced the legislator</a> to drop his compromise proposal, and the pioneering public financing program died, leaving judicial elections vulnerable to partisan spending and the appearance of corruption.<br /> <br /> Finally, Ed Gillespie&rsquo;s original goal was achieved to great effect. In 2011, the newly elected GOP-dominated state legislature <a href="">redrew the state&rsquo;s congressional map</a> to cram African-Americans and other largely Democratic constituencies into a small number of districts and increase the number of Republicans elected to Congress.<a href=""> It worked</a>. In 2012, 50.6 percent of North Carolina voters cast their ballots for Democratic congressional candidates. But thanks to the legislature&rsquo;s extreme partisan gerrymandering, the state&rsquo;s U.S. House delegation ended up being 69 percent Republican -- nine Republicans and only four Democrats.<br /> <br /> <strong>Citizens Fight Back</strong><br /> <br /> North Carolina citizens, recognizing that their democracy has been ripped out of their hands, are fighting back. Since April, civil rights leaders have led weekly &ldquo;Moral Mondays,&rdquo; protests of thousands of people in front of the statehouse. So far, <a href="">more than 900 people</a> have been arrested in the protests, which organizers plan to continue in <a href="">as the next election approaches</a>.</p> Miranda Blue Art Pope C4 Citizens United Equality For All Government By the People North Carolina Supreme Court Fair and Just Courts Fighting the Right Freedom of Speech Religious Liberty The Right to Vote 44232 Thu, 12 Sep 2013 10:51:28 -0500 Citizens United