As the Supreme Court continues its assault on campaign finance limits, we have a modest proposal for more informed citizens and a more accountable government.Continue reading
Today, 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.Continue reading
Today's Supreme Court decisions, both of which heartened proponents of gay marriage, come at a time when gay donors have become formidable players in the political money game. In the 2012 election cycle, gay rights groups and individuals associated with them spent nearly $17 million on campaign contributions and other political spending at the federal and state level, according to a search on Influence Explorer. Gay rights groups also reported spending more than $3.8 million on federal lobbying over the same time period.
Most of that campaign cash--57 percent--went to state level campaigns and issues, where gay marriage ...Continue reading
Yesterday, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a Virginia law that generally prohibits non-Virginians from making use of its Freedom of Information law. As part of its decision in McBurney v. Young, the Court held that the Constitution's Article IV "Privileges and Immunities" clause does not extend to a non-Virginian's right to access public information on equal terms with Virginia citizens. The Constitution says that "the Citizens of each State shall be entitled to all Privileges and Immunities of Citizens in the several States," and the clause was intended to prevent a state from treating citizens of another state in a discriminatory manner. This ruling allows states like Virginia, Delaware, New Hampshire, and Tennessee to continue to make the benefits of their freedom of information laws available only to their citizens. The Court squares this logical circle by concluding that the access to public information made available under state FOI laws are not "basic to the maintenance or well-being of the Union," and thus not a "fundamental" privilege or immunity the Constitution was intended to protect. It baldly states, without evidence, that "there is no contention that the Nation's unity founded in [the absence of FOIA laws prior to the 1960s], or that it is suffering now because of the citizens-only FOIA provisions that several States have enacted."Continue reading
Updated: 1:20 p.m.
As the Supreme Court weighs the issue of equal marriage rights, the political momentum -- and money -- appears to be lining up behind gay rights, an analysis of campaign finance reports for some key organizations involved in the debate indicate.
Gay rights activist rallies outside high court Wednesday
That balance was on display in front of the Supreme Court Wednesday as the justices considered a challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act. At least several hundred sign-wielding gay rights activists filled the sidewalk before the steps of the Supreme Court and only a handful of gay ...Continue reading
Two new members of Congress, Reps. Rick Nolan, DFL-Minn., and Mark Pocan, D-Wis., will introduce a resolution on Tuesday aimed at reducing corporate influence in politics through an amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
According to Nolan, the amendment would establish that "corporations are not people, and money is not speech." In a press conference Monday, he announced the plan along with representatives from Move to Amend (MTA), a coalition that seeks to eliminate corporate personhood rights. The organization officially launched Jan. 21, 2010, the day that the Supreme Court handed down the Citizens United decision that opened the floodgates ...Continue reading
The tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary has brought gun policy back to the forefront of our national conversation. As a nonpartisan, nonprofit Sunlight takes no stance on the issue, but we have put together a collection of resources looking at the legislation, policy and influence around gun rights and gun control, plus the groups and lawmakers involved. The Gun Lobby Sunlight Foundation Senior Fellow Lee Drutman reviews the political influence of the National Rifle Association and the leading gun control group, the Brady Campaign to End Gun Violence. Read his full analysis in this blog post. Lee notes that when it comes to the debate on gun policy, Congress is pretty much only hearing from one side. The NRA spends 66 times what the Brady Campaign spends on lobbying, and 4,143 times what the Brady Campaign spends on campaign contributions. Since 2011, the NRA spent at least $24.28 million: $16.83 million through its political action committee, plus $7.45 million through its affiliated Institute for Legislative Action. According to Influence Explorer records, the Brady Campaign spent $5,800 this election cycle and reported $60,000 in lobbying costs.Continue reading
While the U.S. Supreme Court has now upheld the health care reform law as constitutional, conservative groups still are on a legal attack on the constitutionality of one of the other signature achievements of President Barack Obama’s term in office: the Dodd-Frank financial reform law.
Last week, C. Boyden Gray, an eminence grise of conservative Washington, along with the Competitiveness Enterprise Institute and the 60 Plus Association, filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court to challenge the constitutionality of Dodd-Frank, joining the Texas-based community bank, State National Bank of Big Spring. While the Dodd-Frank has been under ...Continue reading
The Supreme Court had a chance to right a wrong. Unfortunately, by a five to four vote, it declined. Today the court announced its decision to overturn a Montana law prohibiting corporate contributions in elections. The decision comes as no surprise. The Montana law was in direct conflict with the Court’s decision Citizens United, which gave corporations the right to spend unlimited sums of money on political activities, as long as they don’t contribute to candidates directly. But the same activist court that enlarged the scope of the issues presented by Citizens United in order to fabricate a reason to overturn a century of law, today took the narrow approach. By summarily reversing the decision of the Supreme Court of Montana, the court ignored an opportunity to reconsider two important issues in Citizens United: First, that independent expenditures do not give rise to corruption or the appearance of corruption, and second, that current disclosure laws would provide “citizens with the information needed” to “see whether elected officials are ‘in the pocket’ of so-called moneyed interests.”Continue reading