March 02, 2006
Act Now to Keep Internet Political Discussion Unregulated

Word is that H.R. 1606, the On Line Free Speech Act, will brought to the House for a vote next Thursday.

This bill preserves an exemption for most internet communications - including group blogs such as this one - from regulation under the McCain-Feingold campaign finance bill. The exemption was originally adopted by the Federal Election Commission after McCain-Feingold passed four years ago, but last fall a federal judge, at Senator McCain's urging, held that this was an impermissible interpretation of the statute, and ordered the FEC to write new rules regulating the internet. So all H.R. 1606 attempts to do is preserve the status quo from efforts to regulate more (yeah, that's the problem with politics today - too many people blogging and sending emails around!).

Last fall the bill came before the House and got a majority of the votes, 225-182, but because it was brought up under a special rule, it needed a two-thirds majority to pass. This time, a bare majority will do, the "reformers" are working overtime to kill it, with a variety of misrepresentations, as former FEC lawyer Allison Hayward notes here. If it passes the House, it looks good in the Senate - both Harry Reid and Bill Frist have endorsed it.

This bill deserves the support of anyone and everyone who cares about free political speech on the web. But a major scare campaign is underway from the campaign finance "reform" community (to which I respond here). Congressmen and Senators need to hear from folks - especially here in Ohio. Last time out, six Ohio Republicans voted against the bill: Hobson, Schmitt, LaTourette, Turner, Regula and Gilmore. Only 35 Republicans voted no overall.

Posted by Brad Smith at 03:13 PM in Law ~ in Politics  ·  TrackBack (0)

The statesman who should attempt to direct private people in what manner they ought to employ their capitals would not only load himself with a most unnecessary attention, but assume an authority which could safely be trusted, not only to no single person, but to no council or senate whatever, and which would nowhere be so dangerous as in the hands of a man who had folly and presumption enough to fancy himself fit to exercise it. -Adam Smith

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