Nevada Secretary of State Ross Miller has continued his assault on the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. For the past few legislative sessions, Ross Miller has pushed to get a specific piece of legislation through the legislature. He claims this legislation is to push for more transparency, but transparency for who is the question. NRS 294A.348 was the result and on the surface it looks innocent enough, but let’s look a little deeper.
NRS 294A.348 requires that anyone spending more than $100, owning a public website or sends out mass emails to more than 500, must be registered with the Secretary of State’s office as a political action committee and must disclose their identity. This is not related to campaign donations, finance or contribution limits, it’s about free speech. If a person wants to take out an ad in a newspaper, or radio, if he mentions a candidate or asks for a donation, the person/group/PAC must be disclosed and be easily identifying to the general public.
The First Amendment of the Constitution protects free speech and even though it has been upheld by courts throughout the history of our country and even prior to the founding, Ross Miller continues to assault free speech. It does not even matter that this law is in direct conflict with a court ruling overturning a very similar law just a few years ago.
What’s the big deal, you say? We should know who is behind the message. But what about when the person behind the message may create an automatic bias towards the issue or candidate? Say, for example, limited government group wanted to send out flyers supporting a candidate but because of the name of the group (think IRS targeting groups with Tea Party in their name) anyone with an unfavorable view of that group will dismiss the message because of the messenger and not necessarily because of the message.
Let’s take a look at the historical significance of anonymous political speech, think the Federalist Papers; arguments for the ratification of the US constitution. These were written by Publius, which turned out to be John Jay, Alexander Hamilton and James Madison. These men wanted their arguments sway opinion, not who they were. The message was more important than the messenger. The anti-federalists did the same thing, only their identities have never been proven.
Throughout the history of our nation, political speech has been protected by courts on all levels, it’s sad to see politicians trying to destroy this basic natural right. A law passed congress that allows the Secret Service to designate “no free speech” zones, where you can be jailed and charged with a felony for exercising your natural right too close to someone the Secret Service may be protecting. It also extends to any event the government may decide, like the Super Bowl or National Championship Basketball game, which means if you don’t stay out of the “no free speech” zone (which now has no set dimensions and can be moving); you can be jailed and charged with a felony. Free speech has been protected by the First Amendment in America…so far.