Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Minnesota Allows Person Employed By Catholic Church to Keep Campaign Donation Secret - Looking Back on Doe V Reed

I was kinda of taken aback by this article Campaign board allows Catholic to keep confidential his anti-marriage amendment donation

As you can read the donor who gave $600 dollars to the cause is worried he will get fired by the Catholic Church if his donation is found out.

I am struggling to see how the campaign board is going to do a coherent policy on this.

A few years back during the PROP 8 days there was a serious debate and concern over harassment of people that gave money to keep traditional marriage. Many of these people had folks show up at their homes and places of employment and were protested. In fact some people were pressured to leave their jobs or had their employer pressured to fire them !!

This controversy  around  this period showed up in the Supreme Court and put Justice Scalia and Justice Thomas at odds. Justice Thomas appears to think  that much of the  mandatory public disclosure of campaign contributions infringed too much on protected First amendment freedoms and chills free speech. Justice Scalia reaction is pretty much MAN UP QUIT BEING A WUSS.

This issue came up in a related matter. See  the  2010 Supreme Court case  Doe v. Reed . While there were some concurring opinions note Justice Thomas was the only dissent. Scalia was pure Scalia in the oral arguments as detailed by Slate at What's Your Sign? A Supreme Court case that puts Scalia and gay rights advocates on the same side.

...People often ask me how it is possible that Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Antonin Scalia are such good friends despite their ideological differences. Argument today illuminates what they have in common: They are both the Jurists of Steel. First Ginsburg lays into Bopp about the fact that the initiative's own sponsors sometimes sell their list of signatures for fundraising purposes, so the names are really only private with regard to the other guys. "So that would be the end of a person's privacy," she snaps.

Then Scalia tags in to ask, "Do you have any case in which we have held that the First Amendment applies to activity that consists of legislating or of adopting legislation?" Working himself into an Originalist froth, Scalia notes that "for the first century of our existence, even voting was public—you either did it raising your hand or by voice," and then scolds that "running a democracy takes a certain amount of civic courage. And the First Amendment does not protect you from criticism or even nasty phone calls when you exercise your political rights to legislate." Scalia ends with the admonition that "[y]ou are asking us to enter into a whole new field where we have never gone before."

Ginsburg says that in his own brief, Bopp admitted that "you cannot tell anything about the signer's belief from the mere signature." It may signal support for the proposition or merely support for letting the people decide or a desire to get away from the signature collector. Bopp replies that "With all due respect, we do not say the third. We did say the first and the second." Ginsburg, looking as angry as I have seen her in a while, draws his attention to the page in his reply brief where all three arguments are laid out.

Justice John Paul Stevens, the model of civility, breaks in to ask the money question: "Wouldn't it be legitimate public interest to say, I would like to know who signed the petition, because I would like to try to persuade them that their views should be modified?" He adds, "Is there public interest in encouraging debate on the underlying issue?" Bopp replies: "It's possible, but we think this information is marginal."

This leads Scalia to bring down the house with: "What about just wanting to know their names so you can criticize them?" Scalia notes that the disclosure of your name is "so you can be out there and be responsible for the positions you have taken."

Bopp: "Well, then why don't they require both sides?"

Scalia: "What do you mean, 'both sides'? The other side hasn't signed anything

Then Scalia, wiping his hands on his own thick skin blurts: "Oh, this is such a touchy-feely, oh, so sensitive. …You know, you can't run a democracy this way, with everybody being afraid of having his political positions known!" And while braver men have died trying to out-Scalia Scalia, Bopp retorts with equal fervor: "I'm sorry, Justice Scalia, but the campaign manager of this initiative had his family sleep in his living room because of the threats!"

As I said pretty classic. While this is a dealt with a referendum it has very clear implications to the Prop 8 situation we saw above and campaign donations disclosure.

As in many cases both sides seem to have a valid claims. As somone that sort of entertained Justice Thomas's viewpoint  at one one time I have since then warmed much up too Justice Scalia's viewpoint.

I think in Minnesota  they are going to have to develop a consistent policy on this matter under their State law. This "discretion" seems very likely to be abused in the future . So Minnesota  are  you with Thomas or Scalia?

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