Tagged First Amendment

The “Most Transparent Administration Ever” Helps Bring about Less Transparency

Kudos to the New York Times for recognizing the harm that has been done to press freedom by the Obama administration. And the harm, it should be noted, is quite real: The United States has dropped 29 spots in the annual Reporters Without Borders press freedom ranking since 2009, when President Barack Obama took office. The U.S. ranked 49th this year out of 180 countries included in the organization’s World Press Freedom Index, joining the ranks of countries like Niger, Malta and Romania. The decline from its position at No. 20 in 2009 has been spurred by the Obama administration’s aggressive prosecution of whistleblowers,…

Blog Post Title of the Day

“Money Rules Elections–Except When It Doesn’t.” Read the whole thing. I guess it’s too much to think that people who believe Citizens United is destroying the fabric of Western Civilization will reconsider their beliefs upon reading Walter Olson’s post. But hope springs eternal.

Quote of the Day

The Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) systematically limited the ability of individuals and groups to criticize the people who run the government. It was a Draconian law, severely capping the amount of money that could be contributed to political candidates, spent by candidates and campaigns, and even by individuals and groups totally independent of any candidate. The annual limit of $1,000 on “outside” spending made it a federal crime to sponsor a quarter page ad in The Times criticizing the president of the United States during an election year. The whole purpose and effect of FECA was inconsistent with the…

What Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Doesn’t Know about Corporate Law and the First Amendment

Stephen Bainbridge takes the young Kennedy to task for pretending that corporations can somehow be given some kind of “death penalty” for not agreeing with Kennedy’s views on climate policy. Of course, to say that Professor Bainbridge has forgotten more about corporate law than the young Kennedy will ever learn is to understate matters (and you should really read through both of the professor’s blog posts in order to get a sense of just how entirely overmatched the young Kennedy is), but there is another matter worth exploring as well when it comes to this particular debate. Consider the following quote…

From the “Most Transparent Administration Ever,” a Request that the Press Not Do Its Job

No, seriously: First lady Michelle Obama appeared with [Wisconsin Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary] Burke later Monday in Milwaukee, praising her for starting a program to help students get to college, before recalling the challenges President Barack Obama faced when he took office. The crowd cheered as Mrs. Obama talked about restoring the economy and overhauling the health care system. “She is smart, she is in this for the right reasons, she cares about people, she doesn’t care about politics,” Obamas aid of Burke, who has no kids and worked with the Boys and Girls Club of Dane County. “She has been…

More IRS Abuses to Keep You Up and Fretting at Night

Did you know that if you are involved in educating people about the Constitution, you might end up in the sights of the Internal Revenue Service? It’s true. I am sure that the “be on the lookout” criteria that Nicholas Rosenkranz references are based on keywords and key phrases that are meant to indicate certain types of political activity, but that doesn’t make the following any less chilling: What is most corrosive about this IRS tripwire is that it is triggered by a particular point of view; it is not, as First Amendment scholars say, viewpoint-neutral. It does not include…

How to Be Utterly Unreasonable (Corey Robin Edition)

Those who are closely tracking the Steven Salaita affair know that Corey Robin–who is a “political theorist” at Brooklyn College–has perhaps been Salaita’s most ardent defender and champion. This article profiles Robin. Note the following: In the Salaita case, Todd Gitlin faults Mr. Robin for failing to engage with the substance of Mr. Salaita’s tweets, at least as far as Mr. Gitlin has seen. Mr. Gitlin, a professor of journalism and sociology at Columbia University, points to this Salaita tweet from July: “There’s something profoundly sexual to the Zionist pleasure w/#Israel’s aggression. Sublimation through bloodletting, a common perversion.” As Mr. Gitlin views…

How Did Steven Salaita Ever Get an Offer from the University of Illinois in the First Place?

As I have written before, Steven Salaita likely has both a breach of contract claim and a First Amendment claim against the University of Illinois for revoking his job offer. But that doesn’t mean that he should have been offered a job in the first place, and one would hope that the University of Illinois–and other universities–will vet candidates more thoroughly in the future, before offering them tenured or tenure-track positions teaching students and conducting research. (And yes, this includes checking to see what candidates have written on social media.) I mean, how does someone with Salaita’s poor scholarship record actually…

On the Case of Steven Salaita

Don’t know who Steven Salaita is? Read this for background. And this, as well. Done? Good. And now, for my own take: Tablet Magazine has been on a roll with its coverage of the war between Israel and Hamas, and how big media news outlets have reported on the war. But in this editorial, I think they are off base. As reprehensible as Salaita’s tweets are, they are likely covered by the First Amendment, and unless the decision of the trustees at the University of Illinois really means something substantive in the hiring process–as opposed to being a pro forms affair–Salaita can…

Hillary Clinton Continues to Live Down to Expectations

The riots in Ferguson have brought to the forefront issues concerning race relations in the United States, police brutality, the possible over-militarization of police, crime, violence and the fragility of First Amendment rights of free expression. And naturally, Hillary Clinton has absolutely nothing whatsoever to say about the entire matter. Not that anyone should really be surprised anymore; Team Clinton apparently continues to believe that its candidate is the overwhelming favorite to become the next president of the United States (even if the rest of us are strongly entertaining doubts on that matter). As such, Team Clinton doubtless also believes…