Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Judge says Free Speech is OK during elections

Thank YOU to Judge Stephen Mickle. Busybody state legislatures can NOT stop US from commenting on political matters by making the reporting requirements overly burdensome.

TALLAHASSEE -- A federal judge has thrown out Florida’s rules governing so-called electioneering groups, the shadowy political organizations known as “527s” on the national stage.

In striking Florida’s broad campaign-season reporting requirements, U.S. District Judge Stephan Mickle said the state had placed an unconstitutional burden on nonprofit organizations that want to discuss candidates and issues on the ballot.

The Broward Coalition of Condominiums, Homeowners Associations and Community Organizations brought the lawsuit forward, after the group ran into the reporting law when it tried to print a newsletter including information on candidates and constitutional amendments last November.

While it is true the legislature has the power to regulate elections, it does not have the power to regulate purely political discussions about elections,” Mickle wrote in a 19-page opinion, released Friday. “This legislation cannot be justified by the government’s interest in preventing political corruption because the communication that is swept up in this legislation is issue advocacy speech, pure political speech.”