Congress Shall Make No Law...
3:52 PM
When Citizen Speech Is Against the Law

I have an op-ed in the Tampa Tribune today about IJ's challenge to Florida's campaign finance laws, which place unconstitutional burdens on groups that independently advocate the passage or defeat of ballot issues.  Here's an excerpt:



“Hey Bob, have you been reading about Amendment 4?”


“I sure have, Susan. I think it’s awful.”


“Me, too. We should do something about it.”


“How about a full-page ad in the Tribune? We could split the cost.”


“That’s a great idea. Let’s keep it simple: ‘On Nov. 2nd, Vote No on Amendment 4.’”


Sounds simple enough, doesn’t it? It’s the sort of thing Americans do all the time when they’re mad about a candidate or ballot issue. Indeed, it’s the sort of thing James Madison, Alexander Hamilton and John Jay did when they anonymously published the Federalist Papers in support of ratifying the Constitution.


But it’s also the sort of thing that’s illegal in the state of Florida.


If Bob and Susan carry out their plan, they will have broken at least half a dozen state laws. Their political speech has landed them in the minefield of “campaign finance” law, where exercising basic First Amendment rights can lead to fines or even jail time.


The whole thing is available here.


Image source: hyku