Washington Markup

Constitution Doesn’t Need Purple Heart After Narrower Stolen Valor Bill Approved

Constitution Doesn’t Need Purple Heart After Narrower Stolen Valor Bill Approved

By Gabe Rottman, Legislative Counsel, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 6:46pm
A couple weeks ago, I wrote about a revamped version of the so-called Stolen Valor Act. The revamp responded to a Supreme Court decision that declared an earlier version of the legislation—which made it a crime to falsely claim to have a military medal—unconstitutional. Sponsors of that bill failed to learn the lesson of that decision (which was written, not incidentally, by the radical leftist Justice Anthony Kennedy, and joined by card-carrying ACLU member, Chief Justice Roberts). If the original Stolen Valor Act were a seven on the scale of unconstitutionality, the revamped version in the House went to 11. Fortunately, cooler heads prevailed and the initial H.R. 1775 was replaced by a far preferable version introduced by Rep. Tim Griffin (R-AR).
“Stolen Valor” Bill Honorable Sentiment, But Bad Idea

“Stolen Valor” Bill Honorable Sentiment, But Bad Idea

By Gabe Rottman, Legislative Counsel, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 5:29pm

“Lying was his habit.”

That’s the first line from Justice Kennedy’s plurality opinion in United States v. Alvarez, last month’s Supreme Court decision striking down the “Stolen Valor Act,” which made…

“Fixing” Citizens United Will Break the Constitution

By Laura W. Murphy, Director, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 7:21pm

Originally posted on The Huffington Post.

In “Fixing Citizens United,” Professor Geoffrey Stone—usually a friend to the First Amendment—argues for a constitutional amendment to “fix” the Citizens United Supreme…

One Key to Campaign Finance Reform?

By Michael W. Macleod-Ball, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 5:38pm

I spoke on a panel yesterday sponsored by OpenSecrets.org on the future of campaign finance reform. In the course of the panel, an opinion piece by Fred Wertheimer, who was not at the event, but who is one of the most visible advocates for campaign…

Selective Leaks Worst of All Worlds for Free Speech

Selective Leaks Worst of All Worlds for Free Speech

By Gabe Rottman, Legislative Counsel, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 1:21pm

As the election summer heats up, Republicans in Congress are making hay with what they claim are selective leaks by the Obama administration, designed to bolster the president’s national security cred. At a Senate Judiciary hearing yesterday,…

New Government “Propaganda” Bill a Positive Step for First Amendment

New Government “Propaganda” Bill a Positive Step for First Amendment

By Gabe Rottman, Legislative Counsel, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 11:58am
Throughout the country, many of us have rightly been long concerned about the danger of the government using taxpayer funds to covertly influence public opinion.  This issue came up again recently as part of this year’s defense authorization bill, which passed the House of Representatives on Friday.  Reps.
Protesting NATO: What to Know About the Secret Service and H.R. 347

Protesting NATO: What to Know About the Secret Service and H.R. 347

By Gabe Rottman, Legislative Counsel, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 12:58pm

Know before you go: what the newly passed H.R. 347 means for NATO protestors' rights.

Ready to Occupy? What You Need to Know about H.R. 347, the "Criminalizing Protest" Law

Ready to Occupy? What You Need to Know about H.R. 347, the "Criminalizing Protest" Law

By Gabe Rottman, Legislative Counsel, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 11:35am

Occupy, NATO and the party conventions are all coming up this year. Know your rights under the newly signed protest law.

Hoodies and Congressional Expression

Hoodies and Congressional Expression

By Gabe Rottman, Legislative Counsel, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 5:04pm

It was hard to miss on TV or online yesterday the spectacle of Democratic Congressman Bobby Rush of Chicago being ejected from the House floor for wearing a hooded sweatshirt.

After taking off his jacket and raising the hood over his head…

How Big a Deal is H.R. 347, That “Criminalizing Protest” Bill?

How Big a Deal is H.R. 347, That “Criminalizing Protest” Bill?

By Gabe Rottman, Legislative Counsel, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 11:56am

Recent days have seen significant concern about an unassuming bill with an unassuming name: the "Federal Restricted Buildings and Grounds Improvement Act of 2011." The bill, H.R. 347, has been variously described as making the First…