FAN.8 (First Amendment News) — Shaun McCutcheon to write e-book


Ever the entrepreneurial figure, Shaun McCutcheon, the man at the center of the latest campaign finance storm known at McCutcheon v. FEC, has decided to take his case to yet a higher plateau — he’s writing an e-book titled Outsider Inside The Supreme Court — A Decisive First Amendment Battle. “It’s mainly about the actual [experience of being] an activist plaintiff (a DC ‘outsider’),” he told me. The work will be an e-book consisting of nine chapters. According to Mr. McCutcheon, the e-book is being written with significant assistance from Richard E. Cohen, a seasoned correspondent for Congressional Quarterly and the National Journal. Cohen, who has written on politics (see, e.g., here) and campaign finance issues (see, e.g., here), reportedly began working on the writing project with Mr. McCutcheon in late November or early December of last year. (Mr. Cohen is no newcomer to the subject of campaign finance laws. See, e.g., his “Giving till It Hurts: 1982 Campaign Prompts New Look at Financing Races,” National Journal, Dec. 18, 1982.)

SM_Book_Cover_ConceptsHere is the opening paragraph from the first chapter of the forthcoming e-book: “I strongly believe in Freedom of Speech and your right to spend your money on as many candidates and political activities as you choose. Free political speech and assembly are especially important to the future, because we can’t change anything in Washington, DC if we can’t change whom we send to Washington. Supporting those we believe will bring about change – and doing so through transparent contributions — is a good thing.” (emphasis added) He goes on to note: “So I filed a lawsuit, which was argued before the United States Supreme Court on Oct. 8, 2013. As I write this I’m waiting on the High Court’s ruling. This e-book is about the case, and the legal and political forces that drive it.”

Not to be overlooked is his attorney, Erin Murphy, who argued his case in the Supreme Court. He quotes her early on in the work: “‘By prohibiting contributions that are within the modest base limits Congress has already imposed to combat the reality or appearance of corruption,’ Erin Murphy—a former clerk to Chief Justice Roberts, who has become a Supreme Court litigator with a Washington D.C. law firm—told the Justices, ‘these limits simply seek to prevent individuals from engaging in too much First Amendment activity.'”

Some of the other chapters (which are each 3,000 words or fewer) concern:mcc-shaun

  • How Shaun McCutcheon first got actively involved in politics
  • How his case evolved
  • The various attorneys (notably Dan Backer) with whom he has worked on his case
  • How the media has covered the case and controversy, and
  • How the Court will ultimately rule in his case.

McCutcheon’s aim is to provide “a rare inside perspective of the evolution of an important court case from the view of an Alabama businessman.” To that end, he hopes that his account “will help demystify an important part of how our government operates.”

The e-book is slated to come out sometime shortly after the Court rules in McCutcheon.

Conservative scholar deemed threat to college campus security?

Ryan T. Anderson is a fellow at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank. He researches and writes about marriage and religious liberty. Apparently, the Stanford University Graduate Student Council (GSC) denied funding to the Stanford Anscombe Society (SAS) when it set out to have Anderson and other like-minded traditional marriage advocates speak at Stanford. Why?

Well, according to The Stanford Dailysome students complained that having traditional marriage speakers like Mr. Anderson on campus would “threaten the safety of campus for the queer population.” By that logic, the GSC denied funding for the SAS event.

Though Stanford University is a private institution,  California’s Leonard Law applies First Amendment principles to it and how it governs itself. That said, the GSG’s actions seem like a clear case of content discrimination cloaked in threat garb. In other words, if you don’t like the message, simply allege that the speaker is a security risk and either deny him or her a platform or charge exorbitant “security” costs as a condition of speaking. As Andrew Kloster has argued: “colleges, as places of free debate, should not attempt to censor speech simply because they disagree with it. Attempting to keep traditional marriage advocates off the Stanford campus calls that university’s academic credibility into serious question.”

Levine & Wermiel to speak tonight at Newseum re book on Brennan & NYT v. Sullivan13346

Tonight the Newseum in Washington, D.C. will host an event to celebrate the publication of The Progeny: Justice William J. Brennan’s Fight to Preserve the Legacy of New York Times v. Sullivan by Lee Levine and Steve Wermiel. Dean Lucy Dalglish will moderate the discussion between the two authors. The book explores the collegial and sometimes contentious exchanges between justices of the Supreme Court as well as the line of 31 cases that deal with defamation and privacy aspects of First Amendment law decided since Sullivan was handed down on March 9, 1964. The event is free but registration is required. Click here to RSVP.

This past Monday the Practising Law Institute held a conference on the book. Among others, the participants included Second Circuit Judge Robert D. Sack, Kathleen SullivanKevin T. Baine, Vincent Blasi, Victor Kovner, James Goodale, Richard Winfield, and Dean Baquet (managing editor, NYT) and David E. McCraw (VP & Assist. General Counsel, NYT).

Kudos for Kalven — A victory for transparency 

Jamie Kalven, journalist and son of the renowned Professor Harry Kalven (1914-1974), took exception to the idea that complaints of police misconduct were not open to public inspection. So he went to court. The Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit ruled against him insofar as he lacked Article III standing to intervene in the case. So he ventured to state court instead and argued that such records must be open to public inspection under the Illinois Freedom of Information Act. This time he prevailed — Kalven v. City of Chicago (Ill. App., 1st Div., March 10, 2014). Kalven was represented by University of Chicago law professor Craig Futterman, who applauded the ruling: “I really do think this is a watershed moment in Illinois in terms of police transparency and accountability. . . . Police officers do not have recognized privacy interests in complaints of misconduct. We entrust cops with a lot of power — power to use force and even to shoot and kill. They have to have that power to do their jobs. But with that power comes responsibility. . . . This will allow the public to evaluate whether the process of these complaints being investigated is a good process that we can trust in.” The city plans to appeal the decision.  

Quick Hits:

Last FAC.3 (First Amendment Conversations): with Martin Redish

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Next FAN Column: April 2nd.

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