Month: January 2015

Ron Fein: When Judges Pass The Collection Plate, Justice Suffers

In his latest op-ed, Free Speech For People’s legal director, Ron Fein digs in on Justice Scalia, campaign finance, the Williams-Yulee case, and what it all means in the big scheme of preserving judicial dignity. The aptly titled piece,”When Judges Pass the Collection Plate, Justice Suffers” is featured today on The Daily Caller. An excerpt
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John Bonifaz Testifies Before New Hampshire House and Senate On An Amendment To Overturn Citizens United

Our American democracy is in crisis. The voices of ordinary citizens are drowned out by big money interests. And the very core of our First Amendment is in jeopardy because of the U.S. Supreme Court’s latest rulings. Yes, we are talking about Citizens United. The American people recognize this, and the people of New Hampshire have set out to overturn Citizens United with a 28th amendment.

Today, John Bonifaz testified before the New Hampshire House and Senate in a hearing calling for the enactment of a 28th Amendment to end the big money dominance of our politics and restore a government of, by, and for the people. Free Speech For People strongly supports House Bill 371 and Senate Bill 136.

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FSFP Files Amicus Brief Before U.S. Court of Appeals In New York Republican State Committee v. SEC

Our brief argues that the rule protects the First Amendment rights of public employees by preventing investment advisers from using a portion of their pension money to pay for political spending.

The SEC had been working on this rule since the 1990s, but finalized it after a “pay-to-play” scandal involving the New York City pension system. The challengers claim that it forces investment advisers to choose between either making political contributions or practicing their chosen profession.
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Stream Audio From Williams-Yulee Case

On January 20th, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments on Williams-Yulee, a Florida case challenging the Florida Bar’s rule prohibiting candidates for judgeship from personally soliciting campaign funds.

Stream audio from the Williams-Yulee case.
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FSFP Proudly Supports Rep. Keith Ellison’s (MN) New Bill Limiting Corporate Felons’ Ability To Influence Elections

We’re excited that Representative Keith Ellison of Minnesota has announced that he will introduce in Congress the new “Protect Democracy From Criminal Corporations Act.” This bold new legislation is an important step toward undoing the damage of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision and restoring control over our democracy. Corporations that have already committed major criminal felonies have
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Free Speech For People Is Expanding The Constitutional Conversation With Justice Scalia on Williams-Yulee

Free Speech For People’s Legal Advocacy Program aims to “expand the constitutional conversation” about money in politics. Based on yesterday’s Supreme Court argument in a case involving judges soliciting campaign contributions, it appears that we’ve expanded that conversation in an unlikely direction: Justice Scalia.

Some background: 30 of the 39 states that elect their judges have an ethics rule that prohibits judges (or aspiring judges) from soliciting contributions. That doesn’t mean their campaigns can’t raise money—it just means that someone else (a volunteer, friend, or campaign employee) has to make the “ask.”

Yesterday, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Williams-Yulee v. The Florida Bar, which challenges this “anti-solicitation” rule as violating freedom of speech under the First Amendment. Free Speech For People, along with Board member and retired Montana Supreme Court Justice the Honorable James Nelson, filed an amicus brief in support of Florida’s rule. So did many of our allies. But our argument was a little different from theirs.
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