Sunday, September 07, 2014

New York’s ‘shut up’ rule

Keep quiet. That’s the message being sent by New York State Board of Elections, which disregarded the First Amendment to enact new “emergency regulations” on political speech that could become permanent at the end of this month.

Intended to regulate spending by independent groups during campaign season, the regulations are so expansive that almost anyone, citizen or organization, hoping to have their say on any issue could find themselves in bureaucratic dire straits.

Imagine you hear a radio ad where your state representative — let’s call him Fred — claims to oppose higher taxes. But you know that Fred voted three times for higher taxes.

Outraged, you print up 500 flyers with a picture of Fred, a copy of his voting record on taxes and a brief statement about how you think your neighbors should know the truth.  You hand out these flyers at your son’s Little League game, your daughter’s soccer practice and in front of the grocery store while your husband is shopping.

While most would applaud you for performing your civic duty and educating the public about a dishonest politician, the New York State Board of Elections could now fine you at least $1,000.

Why? Because you failed to register as a political committee, complete the appropriate paperwork for filing an “independent expenditure,” list your donors and your treasurer and provide copies of your flyer to the board for its stamp of approval.

As the recent IRS scandal has made abundantly clear, government bureaucrats can’t fairly assess what groups have the right to speak. The opportunity for politically malicious prosecutions in New York will be rampant.

For nearly four decades, courts have consistently discarded as unconstitutional such haphazard definitions of political speech.

If the board’s new regulations become permanent, they will undoubtedly face similar court challenges.

Ultimately, the courts will quash the rules, as they have New York’s past efforts to squelch independent political speech.

But in the meantime, while the state squanders taxpayer dollars on litigation, these regulations will prevent individuals and organizations from delivering their message to the public.



Anonymous said...

This is why "or of the press" is part of the 1st Amendment. NOT Press, press... writing IS speech.

Anonymous said...

The judge who overturns this law ought to be requested to give all the people who created it a 30 day jail sentence for creating such an obviously wrong law.

If that happened a few times in a few places then maybe lawmakers would stop to think before they draw up laws like that in the first place.

Anonymous said...

Politicians will do anything to protect their gravy train. Why is there no one who can veto such legislation?

Anonymous said...

Liberals deliberately pass these regulations when they know they will be struck down to give them the edge before elections where they feel vulnerable. Self serving hypocrisy at its best.


Bird of Paradise said...

I hope there's a big time voter backlash against Cuomo and his fellow demacratic scum suckers in november lets hope to see these political hacks with big shoe marks in their backsides