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September 1, 2009

Free Press Amicus Brief in Citizens United case

In early July, we asked DC Downsizers to help us defend the First Amendment in a campaign finance case. The response was very strong, and made possible a Supreme Court Amicus Curiae (“friend of the court”) brief. (pdf)

And it’s gratifying that we’re able to reassert the argument we first made in our Supreme Court case, Ron Paul v. FEC, that the campaign finance laws are unconstitutional on the basis of the Freedom of the Press. It’s also thrilling that at least two Justices (Scalia and Kennedy) seem to be seeking a bona fide Free Press argument in the current Citizens United v. FEC case.

You and I know that the campaign finance laws (which are really incumbent protection laws) violate the First Amendment on several grounds. However, we were the first to make a Freedom of the Press argument, as opposed to the Freedom of Speech arguments that have failed previously. We’re returning, via this brief, to make the case again.    

The litigant in this case, Citizens United, as well as our group, which produced the amicus brief (pdf), called for the overturning of Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce and McConnell v. FEC. If that happened, we would have a victory to celebrate. And it is realistic to expect one or both of these bad precedent cases (and bad laws) to be overturned. 

Depending on how the opinion is worded, it could set the stage for complete victory later, especially if our Freedom of the Press argument is part, or the primary basis for the decision in the Citizens United case.  

We believe the Freedom of the Press is the untapped legal argument that can overturn the campaign finance (incumbent protection) laws.

Once again, DC Downsizers have helped us to bring this argument before the Supreme Court. (pdf)

And who knows… Things may change because of the amicus brief we’ve just submitted. Just imagine your favorite challenger being able to raise unlimited sums of money to buy advertising, and thereby compete on a fair basis with the incumbent!
 
We’ll be better able to “read the tea leaves” once the Justices hear the case Thursday, September 10. Stay tuned.

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