The First Amendment : LUSENET : Unk's Troll-free Private Saloon : One Thread


Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

-- (, February 15, 2002


Beautiful in its simplicity.

In passing the "campaign reform" Act, has Congress made a law that prohibits free speech (except for those people who own TV stations)? I anticipate a Supreme Court test unless Bush vetos the Act.

-- (, February 15, 2002.

Lars, there is a difference between free speech and bribery.

-- Peter Errington (, February 15, 2002.

This bill is pure ass covering for our later consumption at election time. They're certain it won't pass 1st ammendment muster. Running dogs all. Even Mary Bono repub rep from a neighboring district voted aye. Hope she's tired of politics.

-- Carlos (, February 15, 2002.

All this campaign money has been corrupting the hell out of our politics for quite awhile. This was obvious pre-Enron. Post-Enron, I am amazed that anyone can echo the standard Republican blab.

-- Peter Errington (, February 16, 2002.

I must admit that I have not studied the issue in depth. Will the bill prevent very wealthy people (Perot, Kohl, Corzine, etc) from funding their own election campaign? If so, is this "good"?

-- (, February 16, 2002.

Good question, Lars, and I don't know the answer. All I know is that we can't go on like we have been.

Take Microsoft. As a result of huge contributions to the Republicans, the company is in a stronger position than ever to screw computer users, including me, as a result of the George W Bush "let no big contributor go unrewarded" Administration.

And speaking of that, I don't want to hear nonsense like "well, they refused to save Enron." Enron at the end was a hopeless cause, and they would have been crazy to spend political capital on such a cause.

-- Peter Errington (, February 16, 2002.

The bill, Peter, wouldn't do squat to limit contribs to parties or candidates. What it does do is limit ads run and paid for by anyone else. Dems like it cause it limits corp ads & Pubs like it cause it limits union run ads. I don't like it cause I can't run an ad critical of a candidate. That's 1st ammendment stuff to me.

-- Carlos (, February 17, 2002.

Carlos, you say the bill wouldn't do squat...what about soft money, which has been used, blatantly, as hard money for years?

-- Peter Errington (, February 17, 2002.

Elaborating on what I just said, during the '96 Presidential campaign, whatever flimsy distinctions were being observed between hard money and soft money were first shattered by Clinton-Gore. The Republicans then followed suit (a perfect example: soft money, supposed to be used for issues rather than to promote specific candidates, was used to produce a TV piece on the life of Bob Dole. The life of Bob Dole, the Republicans argued, was an issue). But as I said, Clinton-Gore started it.

-- Peter Errington (, February 17, 2002.

Peter, you seem to be missing the point. It prohibits free speech within 60 days (I don't know why they choose that magical number?). Groups can not run any ads during the final days of the campaign. It won't pass the courts. This is the only thing the liberal media isn't discussing and I don't know why.

-- Maria (, February 19, 2002.

Maria, there are two main parts to the reform legislation, as I understand it. One is the ban on soft money. (This is my main concern.) The other has to do with restrictions on ads by independent (or supposedly independent) issue groups.

The latter is a can of worms and the reforms may run into trouble in the courts. This is why, in the earlier Senate debates, the Republicans tried to work it so that if the courts invalidated any part of the package, the entire package would be invalidated.

-- Peter Errington (, February 19, 2002.

So do you think it will get thru the senate?

-- Maria (, February 19, 2002.

Maria, my feeling is yes, but it will be a big fight. (Bush is praying that he doesn't get a bill for his signature.)

-- Peter Errington (, February 19, 2002.

Peter and Maria:

I am sure that you know more about this stuff than I do, but here is my experience.

I have oversight responsibility for rDNA and biohazard containment for a number of institutions. Recent months have added development and containment of potential bioterrorist agents. I have to track legislation dealing with these fields. Sometimes, I understand the legislation. Often it makes no sense. It really makes no difference. It is usually so general that it is impossible to make any conclusions about its impact.

Once passed, it goes to the appropriate part of the executive branch. They publish [what amounts to] an explanation of what will be enforced [for public comment]. A rewrite is enforced. It, then, goes to the courts for interpretation.

I would expect 2 y before we know what it means.

Best Wishes,,,,,


-- Z1X4Y7 (, February 19, 2002.


I daresay that will be true regarding the issue groups. The reason they are in the reform bill is because of the abuses of a great many of these groups. On the other hand, it can be terribly difficult to distinguish between a genuinely non-partisan issue group, and one just pretending to be such a group.

Case in point: the Citizens Coalition. They claim to be non- partisan, but when they are trying to defeat a conservative Democrat, they will make adjustments to the voter scorecards that they put on car windshields in church parking lots on Sundays.

And then there is the wonderful business about saying all sorts of things about a candidate they are trying to defeat, as long as they don't say the magic words "don't vote for this person".

("Yes, we take seriously the rumors that Candidate X has sex with barnyard animals, but Heavens to Betsy, we never said people shouldn't vote for him.")

But there are issue groups which are genuinely non-partisan. I will list three groups. Two of these, to the best of my knowledge (and I could be wrong as hell) are really nonpartisan. The third one is not, though it pretends to be.

The three groups are: the NRA, the main Right to Life Group, the Sierra Club.

Of which one can I argue that they are partisan? (That doesn't make them evil, just partisan.)

-- Peter Errington (, February 19, 2002.

Correction to the above: The Christian Coalition, not the "Citizens Coalition."

-- Peter Errington (, February 19, 2002.


You may be correct about your contentions. Still you can't argue with the facts about the way new legislation is enforced. Spend a fun day reading the Federal Register. ;o))) Some of these things are 200 or 300 pages long.

Of course, you could be correct about the political implications. I wouldn't want to guess on that one.

Best Wishes,,,,


-- Z1X4Y7 (, February 19, 2002.

The hottest—and hardest to track—action will be elsewhere, among a myriad of ostensibly charitable and educational membership groups. The Founding Fathers in this class include labor unions, the NAACP, the National Rifle Association and the Sierra Club. All can collect unlimited amounts from donors whose identities are constitutionally protected from disclosure. And all can spend as much as they want “educating” their own members.

Happy campaign finance "reform".

-- (, February 19, 2002.

Lars, if I get your drift, it is that because campaign finance reform is problematic in some areas, it is useless to try to improve the system in any area.

The Enrons of the world would applaud.

-- Peter Errington (, February 19, 2002.

My drift, and I would like to be wrong, is that the more things change, the more they stay the same. Enron is dead. The Enrons of the world will always be with us.

Go ahead, pass new laws. Just a bunch of arm-waving.

-- (, February 19, 2002.

Lars, if it were true that this is just a bunch of arm-waving, the majority of Congressional Republicans wouldn't be shitting bricks right now, which they are most emphatically doing. Do you really think they have their blood pressure soaring over the abstract issue of free speech?

-- Peter Errington (, February 19, 2002.

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