Exempting The Internet From Federal Electioneering Regs
U.S. House Will Vote Soon On Whether To Ditch John McCain’s Internet Regulations
The U.S. House of Representatives will vote, as early as Thursday, on legislation introduced by Texas Congressmen Jeb Hensarling and Ron Paul. This bill (H.R. 1606) will exempt the Internet from regulation under federal “electioneering” laws.
Unless the Hensarling-Paul bill is successful, many major blogs and web sites could be shut down for 60 days before any general election — and for 30 days prior to any primary — making it much more difficult for groups like Gun Owners of America to criticize anti-gun candidates.
How did we arrive at such a dismal state?
You may remember that, a half-decade ago, Senator John McCain (R-AZ) pushed a McCain-Feingold bill which, as enacted, prohibits organizations from engaging in major “broadcast communications” which even mention a candidate in a favorable or unfavorable light within 60 days of a general election (30 days of a primary).
Senate Republicans rolled over — and George Bush signed the bill — based on the assumption that the Supreme Court would surely save them from their unconstitutional legislation. But, in McConnell v. Federal Election Commission, 540 U.S. 93 (2003), the Supreme Court, by a five-to-four decision, upheld McCain-Feingold, almost in its entirely.
To its enormous credit, the conservative Federal Election Commission (FEC), in the wake of the McConnell case, moved to narrowly interpret the statute — exempting the Internet entirely from McCain-Feingold. But in Shays v. Federal Election Commission, 337 F.Supp.2d 28 (D.C., 20004), a federal judge ordered the FEC to regulate the Internet.
The FEC is doing everything in its power to minimize the impact of the Shays ruling.
But, there is certainly a danger that, if Hensarling and Paul are unsuccessful in exempting the Internet from FEC regulation, many major blogs and web sites will be construed to be engaged in “electioneering communications” because they praise or criticize candidates. And, if this happens, they could be shut down for 60 days prior to an election — or, at least, subject to a “gag rule” on what they are allowed to say.
ACTION: Contact your congressman. Ask him to vote for H.R. 1606, a bill to exempt the Internet from McCain-Feingold. Time is short, so please CALL rather than email your representative. (You can use the sample text below to help direct your comments.) The toll-free number to call your representative is 1-877-762-8762. If you can’t get through, the Capitol Switchboard number is 202-225-3121.
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The U.S. House of Representatives will soon vote on H.R. 1606, a bill by introduced by Texas Congressmen Jeb Hensarling and Ron Paul to exempt the Internet from regulation under federal “electioneering” laws.
Unless the Hensarling-Paul bill is successful, many major blogs and web sites could be shut down for 60 days before any general election — and for 30 days prior to any primary.
Please support H.R. 1606.