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Rule behind the ‘Hobby Lobby’ case was the most commented

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scales of justiceToday, the Supreme Court announced that it agreed to hear two cases around the contraceptive mandate in the Affordable Care Act. The SCOTUSblog writes:

The Court granted review of a government case (Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, 13-354) and a private business case (Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. v. Sebelius, 13-356). Taking the Conestoga plea brought before the Court the claim that both religious owners of a business and the business itself have religious freedom rights. The Hobby Lobby case was keyed to rights under RFRA.

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How Congress Commemorates President Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address

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Gettysburg Address

Today marks the 150th anniversary of President Lincoln's Gettysburg Address. Beginning with the famous phrase "Four score and seven years ago," the 1863 speech is an emblem of democracy and freedom and a popular recitation for social studies students and members of Congress alike. By searching Sunlight's Capitol Words site, we can see that since 1996 Republicans used the opening line on the House or Senate floor more than Democrats. And when searching the Congressional Record for "Gettysburg Address," the GOP also mentions the speech more overall.

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Resources Tool Kit: McCutcheon v. FEC

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Equal Justice Under Law

A major campaign finance case is up for oral argument before the U.S. Supreme Court tomorrow, McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission. The Sunlight Foundation put together a resources tool kit on the issues around transparency and disclosure of political contributions and campaign finance in advance of the case. You can also keep up with Sunlight's thoughts on it right here on our blog. About McCutcheon v. FEC On October 8, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in McCutcheon v. FEC, a case in which the plaintiff, Sean McCutcheon, joined by the Republican National Committee, is challenging the constitutionality of the overall limit on contributions to federal candidates and political parties.

Looking for a full case overview and court documents? Check out the SCOTUSblog. Sunlight’s Take

 The Citizens United ruling three years ago opened up the floodgates and now this one may give those who can give more power. If the court rules in favor of McCutcheon and the RNC, it might as well tie a big bow around Congress and deliver it to a tiny percentage very rich.

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Research Tool Kit: Immigration bills, lobbying, issue ads and more

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Today, the U.S. Senate will consider the Comprehensive Immigration Reform bill and to mark the occasion, we put together a handy research guide on everything we have on immigration policy. Legislation Follow the bill on Scout, and get updates on all immigration bills around the U.S., congressional speeches and more. Check out an interactive timeline that covers 125 years of immigration policy and legislation in the United States. Q: Who said “immigration reform” the most in Congress? A: Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-CO) … even though he left office in 2009. Lobbying Since January, 61 people filed new registration forms, according to Sunlight’s Lobbying Tracker, with companies seeking more high-skilled foreign workers, led by the tech sector, driving the April and May uptick. This year already surpasses the 54 registrations from all of 2011 and 42 new reports from 2012 that reported immigration as an issue.

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The Political Spending of 501(c)(4) Nonprofits in the 2012 Election

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Throughout the 2012 election cycle, Sunlight followed the unlimited money. From super PACs and corporations to unions and “dark money” we collected, in real time, the political spending reported by these outside groups. With the 501(c)(4) social welfare nonprofits back in the news again (and the IRS’s enforcement of them), we wanted to take a closer look at how these organizations spent money to influence the 2012 election. We often use the term “dark money” to describe these groups since they can spend an unlimited amount on independent expenditures and electioneering communications yet they do not have to disclose their donors. For more information on how to track all types of federal campaign finance disclosures, check out this handy infographic. Overall, dark money groups reported $300 million in independent expenditures in 2012. Of the 50 groups who spent the most, 15 are 501(c)(4) nonprofits. Using our Follow The Unlimited Money tracker, Political Ad Sleuth, Ad Hawk and return on investment calculations, here is how they made an impact in the race for the White House and Congress.

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Research Tool Kit: Gun Laws, Lobbying and Influence in the United States

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With the U.S. Senate expected to take up gun legislation next week and recent passing of gun laws in Connecticut, Colorado and Maryland, we put together a tool kit on the issues around gun rights and gun control. For more information, you can follow the money, influence and news on the issue of gun control and gun rights in the U.S. at our resource page. Keep reading for information about state legislation, swing votes in the Senate, political spending by gun rights and gun control groups, details on how they lobby Congress and where they are airing TV issue ads.

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The Issue Groups Taking to TV So Far in 2013

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While it’s not at the volume of the Fall, our television screens are continuing to experience a case of “political ad fever.” From commercials about gun laws and tax rates to ads about alleged animal cruelty, issue groups took to the airwaves this winter. We reviewed the ad files in Political Ad Sleuth for the first three months of 2013 and mapped the trends among issue group advertisers in the nation’s top 50 media markets.

Sidebar: Don't let broadcasters shut down FCC political ad database over online ripoff

Broadcast TV stations in 32 media markets aired issue ads from at least 55 advertisers. The political ads were split pretty evenly between a local or national scope, covering 27 different topics. Three markets had a diverse selection of advertisers:
  • Washington, DC — 14 issue groups bought airtime, including four on the topic of gun control, three urging the Senate not to appoint Chuck Hagel and one supporting the U.S. postal service.
  • Milwaukee — 7, with issue ads around candidates for the city’s judge circuit race being the majority of the ones we found.
  • Los Angeles — 6, mostly centered on candidates in the LA mayoral race.
Watch the latest Political Money Weather report to learn about these issue ads or keep reading for more.

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