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Thread: Do Foreigners Deserve 'Free Speech' Rights?

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    Default Do Foreigners Deserve 'Free Speech' Rights?

    Do Foreigners Deserve Free-Speech Rights?
    The courts weigh whether legal aliens can make small campaign expenditures

    Despite the ongoing debate over whether the government should be permitted to ban political speech by corporations, most people would agree that the First Amendment prohibits the government from banning political speech by living, breathing people.

    Does it make a difference, though, if those speakers were born outside the United States? We will soon find out.

    The facts of the case—Bluman v. FEC—are simple. Benjamin Bluman is a lawyer and a Canadian citizen. Dr. Asenath Steiman is a physician and a dual citizen of Canada and Israel. Both lawfully live and work in New York City. Both want to make modest political contributions and expenditures—Mr. Bluman in support of Democrats, Dr. Steiman in support of Republicans—but they are prohibited from doing so by a federal law that makes it a crime for anyone except citizens and permanent resident aliens to spend money in candidate elections. The law is so broad that it prohibits Mr. Bluman even from distributing homemade flyers in Central Park promoting the re-election of President Obama.

    This sweeping ban on political speech runs headlong into well-established First Amendment doctrine. Courts have long held that noncitizens who lawfully reside in the U.S. enjoy the full protection of the First Amendment. The Supreme Court has also held that citizens have a First Amendment right to make political contributions and expenditures. And less than two years ago, in Citizens United v. FEC, the court held that the First Amendment protects speech regardless of the identity of the speaker, whether it's a corporation, a union or an individual. Therefore, the plaintiffs argue, noncitizens who lawfully live here should be permitted to make political contributions and expenditures.

    It's a straightforward argument, well-grounded in Supreme Court precedent. Nevertheless, in August, a three-judge U.S. district-court panel in Washington, D.C., unanimously ruled against Mr. Bluman and Dr. Steiman, concluding that the government could bar noncitizens from attempting "to influence how voters will cast their ballots in the elections."

    On Dec. 12, the Supreme Court passed up its first opportunity to announce whether it would take the case. Some observers take this as a hint that the court is going to let the D.C. panel's ruling stand. That would be a mistake, and a sharp reversal from the hard line the court has taken recently on speech-squelching campaign-finance laws.

    The panel's ruling stemmed from a conviction that "foreigners" are different and that foreign speech poses a unique threat to the American political system. As to the first point, foreigners surely are different—they can be prohibited from voting, holding elective office, or serving in certain roles of government authority. But none of this has any bearing on whether their speech is entitled to First Amendment protection. After all, corporations are not allowed to vote but, as the Supreme Court recognized in Citizens United, they are still permitted to speak out about candidates.

    As to the second point—that political speech by noncitizens is uniquely dangerous—this view ignores that such speech is ubiquitous in America, and we are none the worse for it. Foreign publications routinely endorse American presidential candidates; the U.K. paper the Guardian actually urged British citizens to send money to groups whose political efforts would indirectly benefit 2004 Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry.

    Foreigners, and even foreign governments, have long been permitted to spend unlimited amounts of money directly lobbying members of Congress. There is no reason to believe that additional speech by non-permanent resident aliens like Mr. Bluman and Dr. Steiman poses any greater threat.

    More fundamentally, the panel's ruling should be reversed because it ignores the rights of actual American voters. As Justice Anthony Kennedy eloquently expressed it in his majority opinion in Citizens United: "When Government seeks to use its full power, including the criminal law, to command where a person may get his or her information or what distrusted source he or she may not hear, it uses censorship to control thought. This is unlawful. The First Amendment confirms the freedom to think for ourselves."

    The Justices who signed on to Justice Kennedy's opinion should apply that same reasoning to Bluman. Those who instead agree with retired Justice John Paul Stevens' dissent—which decried the application of the First Amendment to entities that have "no consciences, no beliefs, no feelings, no thoughts, no desires"—should recognize that noncitizens living in this country do have those qualities and are entitled to the First Amendment's protection.

    Over the past five years, the Supreme Court has been sharply divided on many campaign-finance questions. Whether Congress has the power to ban peaceful political speech by people who lawfully live and work in the United States should not be one of them. The Supreme Court should grant review and reverse this flawed and dangerous ruling.
    Source

    This is a horrible ruling by the US District court. These are two people who, while aren't citizens, both live and work in America legally. The decisions made by our politicians affect them just as much as they do us. Additionally, it's quite upsetting the US Supreme Court won't hear this case.

    If millions are donated to campaigns by lobbyists/corporations, why can't an individual, who's affected by the politicians, donate a minuscule fraction of what the lobbyists are throwing around?

  2. #2

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    Quote Originally Posted by BringDownMugabe View Post
    Source

    This is a horrible ruling by the US District court. These are two people who, while aren't citizens, both live and work in America legally. The decisions made by our politicians affect them just as much as they do us. Additionally, it's quite upsetting the US Supreme Court won't hear this case.

    If millions are donated to campaigns by lobbyists/corporations, why can't an individual, who's affected by the politicians, donate a minuscule fraction of what the lobbyists are throwing around?
    As reviewed on another thread the bigger question do foreigners think that Americans deserve free speech rights in America?

    http://dailycaller.com/2011/12/13/is...#ixzz1gTD1Adlq

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    I find lobbyist influence distasteful. But, I don't think limiting non- citizens abilities to donate to campaigns, is infringing on their ability to express free speech. If they want to become involved in our political system, they should become an American Citizen.
    FIAT CURRENCY=DEBT SLAVERY

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mac-7 View Post
    As reviewed on another thread the bigger question do foreigners think that Americans deserve free speech rights in America?

    http://dailycaller.com/2011/12/13/is...#ixzz1gTD1Adlq
    I see nothing in the 1st Amendment about it only applying to citizens. It restricts what the government can do. It doesn't say what the people can't do.
    sputterman: "Aiding the enemy? If the truth aids the enemy then we are in the wrong war."

    Me: "When the people who teach our children, protect us from fires and criminals, save our lives when we're injured, and defend us with their very lives make less in a year than a guy who throws a ball for a living makes in an hour, there is something truly (*)(*)(*)(*)ed up with our country."

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    Quote Originally Posted by Questerr View Post
    I see nothing in the 1st Amendment about it only applying to citizens. It restricts what the government can do. It doesn't say what the people can't do.
    Truly a good point. But, since the 1st amendment applies solely to citizens, how does this apply to foreigners?
    Last edited by Bluespade; Dec 13 2011 at 06:41 PM.
    FIAT CURRENCY=DEBT SLAVERY

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by BringDownMugabe View Post
    Source

    This is a horrible ruling by the US District court. These are two people who, while aren't citizens, both live and work in America legally. The decisions made by our politicians affect them just as much as they do us. Additionally, it's quite upsetting the US Supreme Court won't hear this case.

    If millions are donated to campaigns by lobbyists/corporations, why can't an individual, who's affected by the politicians, donate a minuscule fraction of what the lobbyists are throwing around?
    If your not an American citizen you have no say. If they want their voices heard, go home and holler all ya want.
    Would the IRS accept the excuse YOUR hard drive crashed 10 days after receiving an audit notice, so you can't supply the information they're asking for? Would they just drop it and go away? Why should they be held to any less of a standard they set for us?

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    Quote Originally Posted by BringDownMugabe View Post
    Source

    This is a horrible ruling by the US District court. These are two people who, while aren't citizens, both live and work in America legally. The decisions made by our politicians affect them just as much as they do us. Additionally, it's quite upsetting the US Supreme Court won't hear this case.

    If millions are donated to campaigns by lobbyists/corporations, why can't an individual, who's affected by the politicians, donate a minuscule fraction of what the lobbyists are throwing around?

    So according to our court system, corporations are people with speech rights, but foreigners aren't!! What a wonderful system we have!!
    Im a Tarte, what! you want some of this!

    The essence of any utopianism is: Conjure an ideal that makes an impossible demand on reality, then announce that, until the demand is met in full, your ideal can't be fairly evaluated. Attribute any incidental successes to the halfway meeting of the demand, any failure to the halfway still to go.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bluespade View Post
    Truly a good point. But, since the 1st amendment applies solely to citizens, how does this apply to foreigners?


    Where is that part in the constitution?
    Im a Tarte, what! you want some of this!

    The essence of any utopianism is: Conjure an ideal that makes an impossible demand on reality, then announce that, until the demand is met in full, your ideal can't be fairly evaluated. Attribute any incidental successes to the halfway meeting of the demand, any failure to the halfway still to go.

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bluespade View Post
    Truly a good point. But, since the 1st amendment applies solely to citizens, how does this apply to foreigners?
    Where does the 1st Amendment say it only applies to citizens?

    It doesn't. It restricts the government regardless of who it is dealing with.
    sputterman: "Aiding the enemy? If the truth aids the enemy then we are in the wrong war."

    Me: "When the people who teach our children, protect us from fires and criminals, save our lives when we're injured, and defend us with their very lives make less in a year than a guy who throws a ball for a living makes in an hour, there is something truly (*)(*)(*)(*)ed up with our country."

  10. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by frodly View Post
    Where is that part in the constitution?
    Apparently you've never read the preamble to the constitution.

    You know that whole, "We the people of the United States of America".
    FIAT CURRENCY=DEBT SLAVERY

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