#AceNewsServices – WASHINGTON – September 29 – Senate Democrats at a press conference on September 09 unveiled a constitutional amendment designed to alter First Amendment freedoms argued that their effort is both non-partisan and absolutely essential to advance the agenda of the Democratic Party.
“We are here today to overturn Citizens United,” said Sen. Tom Udall (D., N.M.), the amendment’s author.
However, the language of the amendment does not specifically address Citizens United, and would not require Congress to address the issues raised in the case.
Rather, legislators would be given free rein to enact restrictions on political speech as they see fit. Given efforts by Reid and others to demonize Republican donors, conservatives voiced concerns about the consequences of campaign finance regulators uninhibited by any constitutional limitations.
Speakers claimed that even a majority of Republican voters support their proposal. However, they also stressed that campaign finance reform, and Udall’s amendment specifically, is a prerequisite for the advancement of key Democratic policy priorities, including a minimum wage hike, stringent environmental regulations, and income redistribution.
“If people think this is some kind of esoteric issue, not related to jobs and the economy and wages and women’s rights and income and wealth inequality and healthcare and global warming, you are deadly wrong,” said Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.), one of the amendment’s cosponsors.
Sanders and others at the event billed the measure as an attempt to roll back the 2010 Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. FEC, which removed limits on electioneering and express advocacy communications. However, the constitutional amendment’s language is far more sweeping, leading some to suggest that the ruling is being used as a way to rally support for far stricter regulations on political speech.
Merely rolling back Citizens United would not affect many of the groups frequently demonized by Democratic campaign finance reformers.
Americans for Prosperity, for example, has engaged this cycle almost exclusively in issue ads, not electioneering communications or express advocacy.
Such groups were permitted to do the same even prior to the Citizens United ruling, explained campaign finance attorney Jason Torchinsky.
“What non-PAC groups have done with issue ads outside the 30/60 day windows this cycle weren’t impacted by Citizens United,” Torchinsky said in an email. “Non-PAC groups were airing issue ads before [Citizens United] was decided, and if it were repealed or reversed groups would continue to do issue ads and speak out about matters of public policy.”
The language of the amendment would empower Congress to “regulate and set reasonable limits on the raising and spending of money by candidates and others to influence elections.”
If enacted, the amendment would allow Congress to regulate any expenditure—even those made by individual voters—aimed at convincing others to vote a certain way. Because in-kind spending is considered an expenditure under federal law, any activity by any person designed to “influence elections” could fall under Congress’ purview.
Opponents of the constitutional amendment say that amounts to nothing short of the de facto repeal of the First Amendment.
#AceSecurityNews – UNITED STATES – March 29 – A US court dismissed a lawsuit against a Chinese internet giant Baidu, which the plaintiff argued blocks material critical of China’s democratic credentials, a decision that could have far-reaching impact on how US search engines sift information – http://on.rt.com/1bbcrf
The lawsuit was brought forward by a group of New York content editors who alleged that Baidu’s search engine was programmed to filter out material in the United States that touches upon the Chinese government’s harsh censorship laws, calling this a violation of the US Constitution.
According to the ruling http://sdnyblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/11-Civ.-03388-2014.03.27-Opinion-Granting-Motion-for-Judgment-on-Pleadings.pdf on Thursday, “Plaintiffs, self-described ‘promoters of democracy in China through their writings, publications and reporting of pro-democracy events,’ allege that Baidu conspires to prevent ‘pro-democracy political speech’ from appearing in its search-engine results here in the United States,” it read.
US District Judge Jesse Furman in Manhattan disagreed, comparing Baidu’s algorithms to a newspaper’s editorial stance: “The First Amendment protects Baidu’s right to advocate for systems of government other than democracy (in China or elsewhere) just as surely as it protects plaintiffs’ rights to advocate for democracy.”
The First Amendment (Amendment I) to the United States Constitution prohibits the making of any law respecting an establishment of religion, impeding the free exercise of religion, abridging the freedom of speech, infringing on the freedom of the press, interfering with the right to peaceably assemble or prohibiting the petitioning for a governmental redress of grievances. It was adopted on December 15, 1791, as one of the ten amendments that comprise the Bill of Rights.
#AceWorldNews says that the Turkish government has submitted proposals to amend a disputed internet bill, which was passed by parliament a week ago.
There are also calls for President Abdullah Gul to veto it.
The first amendment proposes that Turkey’s Directorate of Telecommunication (TIB) be unable to block access to web pages and instead must send its decision to a court, which must decide itself within 24 hours, or the initial TIB decision become void.
The second amendment is aimed at making sure information on internet traffic would be collected using IP and subscriber numbers, instead of URL’s, which are seen as more insidious.
When Montana blogger Crystal Cox lost her defamation case in 2011, the decision was greeted by a chorus of cheers from journalists, who were quick to argue that Cox wasn’t a journalist in any real sense of the word, and therefore didn’t deserve any protection from the First Amendment. An appeals court for the Ninth Circuit has disagreed, however: on Friday, a panel of judges overturned the original decision and said that Cox was in fact entitled to protection.
The implications of this ruling go beyond just a single defamation case. It’s another link in a chain of decisions that are gradually helping to extend the principle of free-speech protection beyond professional journalism to anyone who is publishing information with public value — and as such, it helps shift the focus away from trying to define who is a journalist and puts it where it should be: on protecting…
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