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  • July 10, 2008
    By Wendy Kaminer

    By Wendy Kaminer,

    Barack Obama is poised to become “our first president who is a civil libertarian,” Jeffrey Rosen wrote hopefully and not without reason, less than 6 months ago. But it didn’t take long for the audacity of politics to expose the naivete of hope. Today, given Obama’s support for the grossly and gratuitously anti-libertarian FISA amendments (painstakingly explored by the tireless Glenn Greenwald,) civil libertarians are likely to vote for him with a lot more resignation than enthusiasm.

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  • January 09, 2008
    By Wendy Kaminer
    By Wendy Kaminer

    Identity politics seemed to have worked for Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire, after all, and given the unseemly glee with which so many pundits predicted her demise, given their gratuitous brutality toward her, I confess to feeling pleased and even vindicated by the support she received from women. I'm not a member of the Hillary fan club (I'm uneasy with her centrist, communitarian instincts,) and I recoil from the notion of voting on the basis of sex, race, or any other demographic category.

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  • January 08, 2008
    By James Tierney

    NBC reports that a group of abortion protesters disrupted a Barack Obama rally in New Hampshire. Though the police came to usher the protesters out, Obama’s response seems to suggest that he understands the old notion of disagreeing with you but fighting for your right to say it:

    “Let me just say this though. Some people got organized to do that [protest].

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  • January 04, 2008
    By Wendy Kaminer
    By Wendy Kaminer

    It’s easy to overestimate or over-hype the implications of the Iowa caucus results, but it does seem clear that Hillary Clinton needs to re-evaluate her reputed reliance on the “women’s vote.” Reportedly, while Clinton had the edge with older women (and anecdotal evidence showed that elderly women found her especially appealing) Obama captured women under 35.

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  • October 06, 2007
    By Wendy Kaminer
    By Wendy Kaminer

    Thanks to Burton Hanson for alerting us to a ruling by the Supreme Court of Washington State striking down a law that barred political candidates from knowingly or recklessly making false statements about their opponents. This was an easy case: if the First Amendment means anything at all, it means that government officials may not restrict the content of political speech, as the majority recognized: “The notion that government, rather than the people, may be the final arbiter of truth in political debate is fundamentally at odds with the First Amendment,” Justice James Johnson wrote, in Rickert v Public Disclosure Commission

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  • July 29, 2007
    By Wendy Kaminer
    If money isn’t speech, as advocates of campaign finance restrictions wishfully insist, then why does your local NPR station persist in conducting those annoying pledge drives? If money isn’t speech, why does Rupert Murdoch want to own the Wall Street Journal? Why do unprofitable political publications require financial angels to survive? Of course, money is speech, in effect, as Harvey observes below, (and as crtitics of campaign finance restrictions regularly point out; we have been having this argument for years.

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  • July 25, 2007
    By Harvey Silverglate

    There was a show-tune ditty that was popular back when I was a kid, which younger readers might also identify as the theme song to Married With Children. “Love and marriage,” went the lyric, “go together like a horse and carriage. This, I tell you, brother: You can’t have one without the other.” In quite the same way, in the context of electoral politics, you can’t have speech without money.

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  • June 27, 2007
    By Wendy Kaminer
    By Wendy Kaminer

    Civil libertarians have good reason to mourn the Supreme Court’s latest rulings eviscerating student speech rights and empowering the president to divert public funds to sectarian religious groups. In the wake of the Court’s earlier decision this term upholding bans on second trimester abortions, these cases confirm that the Court is now pretty firmly under the control of authoritarian (not libertarian) conservatives.

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  • April 27, 2007
    By Harvey Silverglate
    The Supreme Court heard yet another round of oral arguments April 25th on the ever-perplexing subject of so-called “campaign financing reform” – the efforts by Congress and the Federal Election Commission (FEC) to establish rules to limit, in the pet phrase of supporters of these laws, “the corrupting influence of big money” on our electoral system.

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  • April 27, 2007
    By Wendy Kaminer
    Some people actually like receiving automated phone messages from political candidates (go figure; some people like watching reality tv;) but recent increases in robocalls have naturally prompted increases in complaints about them. The New York Times reports that more than 20 states are considering restricting their use.

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