‘If the law supposes that … the law is a ass — a idiot’

A victory for free speech is a victory, even if it is for the wrong reason.

Carson City Senor District Judge Robert Estes tossed a lawsuit from the Nevada Secretary of State against Americans for Prosperity nearly a month ago, saying the statute in question applies only to those spending money “on behalf” of a candidate, according to the AP.

The AFP —  funded by conservative billionaires Charles and David Koch — sent out mailers in 2012 during the election campaign of Kelvin Atkinson for state Senate in 2012. Those mailers criticized Atkinson for co-sponsoring a 2011 renewable energy bill, AB416, It has been estimated the bill would have cost power customers as much as $1 billion in higher bills.

“There can be no argument whatsoever that the fliers were sent on behalf of Assemblyman Atkinson,” Estes wrote in his Oct. 17 ruling, but he the state’s claim that the meaning of “on behalf” is the same as “about” a candidate is a “strained argument.”

“Certainly many people benefited by mailing fliers, even the post office,” the judge wrote. “Simply because an entity may benefit from a political activity, it is not a given that the activity was done on the beneficiaries’ behalf.”

Secretary of State Ross Miller said he won’t appeal and noted he has prevailed in two similar cases.

“This court based its decision on a factual determination of a specific political mailer,” Miller told the AP. “The facts of each case are different and I don’t anticipate that this ruling will prevent us in any way from enforcing the rules moving forward.”

Of course the Las Vegas Review-Journal’s drooling liberal lapdog columnist Steve Sebelius doesn’t believe billionaires should allowed free speech and called on the state’s lawmakers to “revise the law to encompass all electioneering communications designed to influence the public in any way, and attach a requirement to report donations and expenditures. With the U.S. Supreme Court expanding the rights of corporations to influence elections, and the increasing use of nonprofits that can legally shield donors, it’s more important than ever that the people know who’s trying to buy their votes, and why.”

Of course this is palpable nonsense and contrary to the principles and actions of the Founders who often penned anonymous screeds. The voters are perfectly capable of using their own noggins to evaluate any message that reaches their ears. They do not need tax-funded protection against their own gullibility.

In 1988, Margaret McIntyre was fined $100 for distributing leaflets opposing a school tax levy at a public meeting in Westerville, Ohio. She had violated a state law prohibiting unsigned leaflets.

In declaring the Ohio law unconstitutional, Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens wrote:

“Under our Constitution, anonymous pamphleteering is not a pernicious, fraudulent practice, but an honorable tradition of advocacy and of dissent. Anonymity is a shield from the tyranny of the majority. … It thus exemplifies the purpose behind the Bill of Rights, and of the First Amendment in particular: to protect unpopular individuals from retaliation — and their ideas from suppression — at the hand of an intolerant society.”

In the Citizens United case — the case that Obama blasted the high court for in a State of the Union address with justices sitting in front of him — the court held that groups, corporations and unions may not be singled out and barred from spending their own money in support of or opposition to a candidate or a cause.

Justice Antonin Scalia explained in a concurrence:

“The (First) Amendment is written in terms of ‘speech,’ not speakers. Its text offers no foothold for excluding any category of speaker, from single individuals to partnerships of individuals, to unincorporated associations of individuals, to incorporated associations of individuals — and the dissent offers no evidence about the original meaning of the text to support any such exclusion. We are therefore simply left with the question whether the speech at issue in this case is ‘speech’ covered by the First Amendment. No one says otherwise.”

But in an inexplicable self-contradiction, the ruling let stand reporting and disclosure requirements similar to those in Nevada law. How can you remain anonymous if you must disclose?

But Justice Clarence Thomas, in a partial dissent, chided his comrades for this duplicity:

“The disclosure, disclaimer, and reporting requirements in (the law) are also unconstitutional. …

“Congress may not abridge the ‘right to anonymous speech’ based on the ‘simple interest in providing voters with additional relevant information …’ “

Free speech is a right, not a privilege that requires a permit or disclosure of identity. The entire Nevada law needs to be either repealed or declared unconstitutional. Abridging is abridging is abridging.

This law is a ass.

I wonder what R-J columnists would write if the Stephens family and Club for Growth started sending out political mailers without first paying homage to Ross Miller.

For a thorough discussion of this topic, read Steven Miller’s three-part series, ”R.I.P., Publius,” at Nevada Policy Research Institute — Part IPart IIPart III.

30 comments on “‘If the law supposes that … the law is a ass — a idiot’

  1. Vernon Clayson says:

    I like the quotation by Dickens but no law appears magically, each is designed, discussed, and dissected, by those partisan to it to give it the best possible light, although without sufficient illumination to make it clear for the peasantry. This Nevada case is a whisper in a norther compared to the so-called Affordable Care Act, it was litigated, not dictated.

  2. Steve says:

    If minority opinion may be anonymous, how will the majority control it? Oh dear me, the horror of it all.

  3. Rincon says:

    In a society where dollars equal votes, the one man, one vote concept is out the window (Yeah, I know. TECHNICALLY, it is still true). We certainly need a Constitutional Amendment recognizing that a corporation cannot be equal to a living, breathing citizen. It is a problem with rich people though. We pretty much have to let them have their say, even though they can speak far more loudly others. I’m torn over the anonymity though. Whose right is greater, that of the individual that can heavily influence an election with his hundred megawatt voice or the voters, who probably deserve to know the source – especially if the accuracy is suspect?

    The anonymous leaflets from long ago came when the only tools available were logic and persuasion. Today, science has found many ways to influence peoples’ behavior, but it takes lots of money. Money equals advantage. Is it fair for a few to have all the advantgages?

  4. Steve says:

    Has it ever been fair for the few to have the advantage?

    And can you show us where “fairness” is guaranteed in the constitution?

  5. Rincon says:

    A rapist could use the same logic. “Has it ever been fair that people are raped? And can you show us where freedom from rape is guaranteed in the Constitution?.”

  6. The First Amendment also includes the right to peaceably assemble … and that doesn’t mean to hang out on the street corner.

    If money always prevails, then this grand experiment with democracy is over. Crown Obama and throw the voting machines in the ocean.


  7. Rincon says:

    Unless the trend towards greater income disparity reverses, money will once again prevail, as it has throughout history. The middle class is a bit of an anomoly. Throughout history and in much of the world today, the golden rule applied: He who has the gold makes the rules.

  8. Athos says:

    And therein lies the problem, Rin. The Rockefeller, Howard Hughes, Sam Walton, and Bill Gates types will always be with us. Each man made his fortune on his own (as opposed to the Queen of England or King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia)

    In our country, you can work your way up, and lead a successful life, without a benevolent dictator, until said dictator decides to confiscate your wealth. You can’t argue that our country, even with it’s division between rich and poor, haven’t produced the world’s best place to be poor!

    And looking at history, time and again, the socialist system (of redistributing the wealth- decided by charismatic and/or intelligent leaders) has been a failure.

    I am middle class, and lead a better life than my parents, and an infinitely better life than my grandparents. Each generation of “Athos” has improved demonstratively over the previous.

    My children, sold into this fundamental transformation of socialism, and despotism, may not be able to make the same claim as their forefathers.

    Why are you defending the demise of a free America? (Freedom from Governmental Tyranny)

  9. Steve says:

    According to Rincon

    “fairness” = “rape”

    Pulled one out o’ you guys bag’o tricks!

  10. Rincon says:

    I never said they were equal, Steve. If they were, then I could not have made the point. My point is that your argument doesn’t hold water precisely because rape is nothing like fairness.

  11. Rincon says:

    Athos declares socialism a failure while ignoring Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Australia, France, etc. Meantime, it doesn’t seem to occur to him that the militias in various third world countries as well as the fiefdoms of the Middle Ages and many others are all examples of pure capitalism with no government interference.

    Without a death taxes, royalty still survives. Under those circumstances, genes are more important than merit. The Gates family will still be rich twenty generations from now unless Bill gives it all away.

  12. Steve says:

    Exactly, rape is nothing like the fantasy of “fairness”.
    Rape is real and tangible and physically hurts people.
    “Fairness” is an impossibility.
    That is why your argument is invalid.

  13. Steve says:

    “Capitalism” = “fiefdoms” and “totalitarianism”

    Hell of a country we have here. If you hadn’t made that clear as mud I would never have noticed.

  14. Rincon says:

    Fairness is impossible? I guess that concept makes a lot of things easier. No need for referees at sporting events. Courts aren’t needed, so we can just get rid of them. Parents have one less thing to teach their children. And I guess that means getting rid of slavery was a mistake. I think it was actually some type of attempt at fairness.

  15. Rincon says:

    The fiefdoms were essentially pure capitalism. As warfare became more sophisticated, tribes were conquered and subjugated by other tribes, resulting in kingdoms. These were run by the richest and most powerful family. Just a big version of survivor. In the absence of government, they became government.

    The major difference today is that they had no elections to control the behavior of the royalty. Once a small number become powerful enough though, elections become either worthless or nonexistant. Today, eliminating them would be difficult, so the choice is to steer the selection of candidates before the elections are held. That’s where we stand today. The sources of money for each party determine the platform and the candidates.

  16. Steve says:

    Courts, Ref’s and Parents?!! you must have a very selective memory… Absolutely all of these are great examples of “fairness”…unless you are on the losing end of the decision….. 🙄

    More like perfect examples of justice, which is completely different from “fairness” and justice is most definitely covered in the constitution.

    “That’s where we stand today.” It’s also where its always been. Power and money go hand in hand. The difference (and it holds true to this day) is under capitalism anyone can find a way to make money and achieve power. No matter what party or affiliation one has.

  17. Rincon says:

    You said fairness is an impossibility. Since the goal of a ref is to make a fair game, there’s no reason to referee a game, right?

    If power and money go hand in hand and you think it’s great, then a large mass of voters can acquire the power to tax the money away from the rich. No need to be fair at all. That’s just them exercising their power. I like the way you think, Steve.

  18. Steve says:

    Refs don’t make a game fair, they judge disputes and some one wins while others lose. In your world everyone gets a trophy for showing up.

    Unions have been working on taking over for a long time, it’s too bad they got power hungry and forgot the masses they were supposedly going to make wealthy on the backs of those rich old fatcat corporate types and those people sure jumped ship fast once they saw what was being done to them. Meanwhile union leadership is certainly enjoying their life o’riley money on the backs of public employees, the only union with a any real numbers anymore. And they are shrinking fast too. So, you should like the way I think, because you are one of those types who prove me right, running your own business….

  19. Rincon says:

    It happened in the gilded age. It will happen again. The voters will fleece the rich.

  20. Steve says:

    That is only inevitable.
    In large groups, humans are very predictable.
    After the fleecing, those masses will lose it all back to the few with the smarts to snap it up and hold onto it.

    Look at lottery winners for clues.

  21. Rincon says:

    You never know. Sweden, Denmark, Australia, etc. haven’t handed the money back to the rich although Sweden did moderate a bit.

  22. Steve says:

    This Australia?

    Denmark and Sweden simply make living so expensive that it takes tons of money to live there. Keeping up appearances as it were. Just try to visit and stay in an average hotel at 500 dollars a night. Much of these costs due to taxes. Bad examples.

  23. Rincon says:

    The reason it’s so expensive is at least partly due to exchange rates. I believe I’ve seen Sweden at the top of some articles listing the best places to live. The Australians live better than we do on average (median). Both peoples live longer than we do and have lower infant mortality than we do despite having wasteful and primitive health care systems. All I’m saying is that their brand of socialism doesn’t even come close to putting them down the toilet. You guys need to take something for all that anxiety.

  24. Steve says:

    There brand of socialism won’t sell here. Even among your beloved Democrats. It’s why Obamacare is law instead. (Not ACA anymore since it is living up to expectations.)

  25. Steve says:

    Exchange rates…to a small degree. The hotel rates I mention are in Swiss dollars.

  26. Athos says:

    THE CROOK, and Ø are both on record wanting “single payer”. Anyone want to guess why they don’t just call it what it is?

    State run medical service has been called Communism for close to 100 years. Do they really believe if you change the brand name, the results will be any different than the failed USSR?

  27. Rincon says:

    Every other OECD country has socialized health care, they pay less than we do, and yet almost all of them live longer than us. Much better than the old USSR.

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