As the Presidential race tightens and Hurricane Sandy whips the country into a frenzy only one week before the election, it's becoming very clear that the key state this year will be .... OHIO. Both parties will pour many more millions into Ohio advertising over the coming week, but clearly the outcome will remain uncertain until election day. Obama is currently showing a slight lead based on polling averages at RealClearPolitics.com, but some polls such as Rasmussen show Romney now leading (though Rasmussen does tend to skew Republican).
Without Ohio no Republican has won the white house, and it's unlikely that Romney could be the exception to this rule. If Ohio goes Obama then Mitt Romney would have to win *every other battleground state* to win, and that outcome is very unlikely.
In fact current polling generally shows Obama winning the election by electoral votes while *losing* the popular vote. This is a rare occurrence but as you recall it happened in 2000 when GW Bush beat Al Gore by electoral votes while losing the national popular vote by about 500,000.
Turnout will also be a critical factor. Incredibly, it's entirely possible that a bright sunny Nov 6 in Ohio will give the election to Obama while a rainy cold day will push it to Mitt Romney.
Tuesday, October 30, 2012
Monday, October 22, 2012
[source - ABC News]
[*] SCHIEFFER: Good evening from the campus of Lynn University here in Boca Raton, Florida. This is the fourth and last debate of the 2012 campaign, brought to you by the Commission on Presidential Debates.
This one's on foreign policy. I'm Bob Schieffer of CBS News. The questions are mine, and I have not shared them with the candidates or their aides.
SCHIEFFER: The audience has taken a vow of silence -- no applause, no reaction of any kind, except right now when we welcome President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney.
Gentlemen, your campaigns have agreed to certain rules and they are simple. They've asked me to divide the evening into segments. I'll pose a question at the beginning of each segment. You will each have two minutes to respond and then we will have a general discussion until we move to the next segment.
Tonight's debate, as both of you know, comes on the 50th anniversary of the night that President Kennedy told the world that the Soviet Union had installed nuclear missiles in Cuba, perhaps the closest we've ever come to nuclear war. And it is a sobering reminder that every president faces at some point an unexpected threat to our national security from abroad.
So let's begin.
SCHIEFFER: The first segment is the challenge of a changing Middle East and the new face of terrorism. I'm going to put this into two segments so you'll have two topic questions within this one segment on the subject. The first question, and it concerns Libya. The controversy over what happened there continues. Four Americans are dead, including an American ambassador. Questions remain. What happened? What caused it? Was it spontaneous? Was it an intelligence failure? Was it a policy failure? Was there an attempt to mislead people about what really happened?
Governor Romney, you said this was an example of an American policy in the Middle East that is unraveling before our very eyes.
SCHIEFFER: I'd like to hear each of you give your thoughts on that.
Governor Romney, you won the toss. You go first.
ROMNEY: Thank you, Bob. And thank you for agreeing to moderate this debate this evening. Thank you to Lynn University for welcoming us here. And Mr. President, it's good to be with you again. We were together at a humorous event a little earlier, and it's nice to maybe funny this time, not on purpose. We'll see what happens.
This is obviously an area of great concern to the entire world, and to America in particular, which is to see a -- a complete change in the -- the structure and the -- the environment in the Middle East.
With the Arab Spring, came a great deal of hope that there would be a change towards more moderation, and opportunity for greater participation on the part of women in public life, and in economic life in the Middle East. But instead, we've seen in nation after nation, a number of disturbing events. Of course we see in Syria, 30,000 civilians having been killed by the military there. We see in -- in Libya, an attack apparently by, I think we know now, by terrorists of some kind against -- against our people there, four people dead....
Saturday, October 20, 2012
CITIZENS UNITED v. FEDERAL ELECTION COMM’N ( No. 08-205 ) Reversed in part, affirmed in part, and remanded. Syllabus SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES CITIZENS UNITED v . FEDERAL ELECTION COMMISSION CITIZENS UNITED v. FEDERAL ELECTION COMM’N ( No. 08-205 ) Reversed in part, affirmed in part, and remanded.
Appeal from the united states district court for the district of columbia No. 08–205. Argued March 24, 2009—Reargued September 9, 2009––Decided January 21, 2010
See the Judges individual Opinions in Citizens United HERE
Appeal from the united states district court for the district of columbia No. 08–205. Argued March 24, 2009—Reargued September 9, 2009––Decided January 21, 2010
As amended by §203 of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 (BCRA), federal law prohibits corporations and unions from using their general treasury funds to make independent expenditures for speech that is an “electioneering communication” or for speech that expressly advocates the election or defeat of a candidate. 2 U. S. C. §441b. An electioneering communication is “any broadcast, cable, or satellite communication” that “refers to a clearly identified candidate for Federal office” and is made within 30 days of a primary election, §434(f)(3)(A), and that is “publicly distributed,” 11 CFR §100.29(a)(2), which in “the case of a candidate for nomination for President … means” that the communication “[c]an be received by 50,000 or more persons in a State where a primary election … is being held within 30 days,” §100.29(b)(3)(ii). Corporations and unions may establish a political action committee (PAC) for express advocacy or electioneering communications purposes. 2 U. S. C. §441b(b)(2). InMcConnell v. Federal Election Comm’n , 540 U. S. 93 , this Court upheld limits on electioneering communications in a facial challenge, relying on the holding inAustin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce , 494 U. S. 652 , that political speech may be banned based on the speaker’s corporate identity.
In January 2008, appellant Citizens United, a nonprofit corporation, released a documentary (hereinafter Hillary ) critical of then-Senator Hillary Clinton, a candidate for her party’s Presidential nomination. Anticipating that it would make Hillary available on cable television through video-on-demand within 30 days of primary elections, Citizens United produced television ads to run on broadcast and cable television. Concerned about possible civil and criminal penalties for violating §441b, it sought declaratory and injunctive relief, arguing that (1) §441b is unconstitutional as applied to Hillary; and (2) BCRA’s disclaimer, disclosure, and reporting requirements, BCRA §§201 and 311, were unconstitutional as applied to Hillary and the ads. The District Court denied Citizens United a preliminary injunction and granted appellee Federal Election Commission (FEC) summary judgment.
1. Because the question whether §441b applies to Hillary cannot be resolved on other, narrower grounds without chilling political speech, this Court must consider the continuing effect of the speech suppression upheld in Austin . Pp. 5–20.
(a) Citizen United’s narrower arguments—that Hillary is not an “electioneering communication” covered by §441b because it is not “publicly distributed” under 11 CFR §100.29(a)(2); that §441b may not be applied to Hillaryunder Federal Election Comm’n v. Wisconsin Right to Life, Inc. , 551 U. S. 449(WRTL), which found §441b unconstitutional as applied to speech that was not “express advocacy or its functional equivalent,” id., at 481 (opinion of R oberts, C. J.), determining that a communication “is the functional equivalent of express advocacy only if [it] is susceptible of no reasonable interpretation other than as an appeal to vote for or against a specific candidate,” id. , at 469–470; that §441b should be invalidated as applied to movies shown through video-on-demand because this delivery system has a lower risk of distorting the political process than do television ads; and that there should be an exception to §441b’s ban for nonprofit corporate political speech funded overwhelming by individuals—are not sustainable under a fair reading of the statute. Pp. 5–12.
(b) Thus, this case cannot be resolved on a narrower ground without chilling political speech, speech that is central to the First Amendment ’s meaning and purpose. Citizens United did not waive this challenge to Austinwhen it stipulated to dismissing the facial challenge below, since (1) even if such a challenge could be waived, this Court may reconsider Austin and §441b’s facial validity here because the District Court “passed upon” the issue, Lebronv. National Railroad Passenger Corporation , 513 U. S. 374 ; (2) throughout the litigation, Citizens United has asserted a claim that the FEC has violated its right to free speech; and (3) the parties cannot enter into a stipulation that prevents the Court from considering remedies necessary to resolve a claim that has been preserved. Because Citizen United’s narrower arguments are not sustainable, this Court must, in an exercise of its judicial responsibility, consider §441b’s facial validity. Any other course would prolong the substantial, nationwide chilling effect caused by §441b’s corporate expenditure ban. This conclusion is further supported by the following: (1) the uncertainty caused by the Government’s litigating position; (2) substantial time would be required to clarify §441b’s application on the points raised by the Government’s position in order to avoid any chilling effect caused by an improper interpretation; and (3) because speech itself is of primary importance to the integrity of the election process, any speech arguably within the reach of rules created for regulating political speech is chilled. The regulatory scheme at issue may not be a prior restraint in the strict sense. However, given its complexity and the deference courts show to administrative determinations, a speaker wishing to avoid criminal liability threats and the heavy costs of defending against FEC enforcement must ask a governmental agency for prior permission to speak. The restrictions thus function as the equivalent of a prior restraint, giving the FEC power analogous to the type of government practices that the First Amendmentwas drawn to prohibit. The ongoing chill on speech makes it necessary to invoke the earlier precedents that a statute that chills speech can and must be invalidated where its facial invalidity has been demonstrated. Pp. 12–20.
2. Austin is overruled, and thus provides no basis for allowing the Government to limit corporate independent expenditures. Hence, §441b’s restrictions on such expenditures are invalid and cannot be applied to Hillary.Given this conclusion, the part of McConnell that upheld BCRA §203’s extension of §441b’s restrictions on independent corporate expenditures is also overruled. Pp. 20–51.
(a) Although the First Amendment provides that “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech,” §441b’s prohibition on corporate independent expenditures is an outright ban on speech, backed by criminal sanctions. It is a ban notwithstanding the fact that a PAC created by a corporation can still speak, for a PAC is a separate association from the corporation. Because speech is an essential mechanism of democracy—it is the means to hold officials accountable to the people—political speech must prevail against laws that would suppress it by design or inadvertence. Laws burdening such speech are subject to strict scrutiny, which requires the Government to prove that the restriction “furthers a compelling interest and is narrowly tailored to achieve that interest.” WRTL, 551 U. S., at 464. This language provides a sufficient framework for protecting the interests in this case. Premised on mistrust of governmental power, the First Amendment stands against attempts to disfavor certain subjects or viewpoints or to distinguish among different speakers, which may be a means to control content. The Government may also commit a constitutional wrong when by law it identifies certain preferred speakers. There is no basis for the proposition that, in the political speech context, the Government may impose restrictions on certain disfavored speakers. Both history and logic lead to this conclusion. Pp. 20–25.
(b) The Court has recognized that the First Amendment applies to corporations, e.g., First Nat. Bank of Boston v. Bellotti , 435 U. S. 765 , and extended this protection to the context of political speech, see, e.g., NAACP v.Button , 371 U. S. 415 . Addressing challenges to the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971, the Buckley Court upheld limits on direct contributions to candidates, 18 U. S. C. §608(b), recognizing a governmental interest in preventing quid pro quo corruption. 424 U. S., at 25–26. However, the Court invalidated §608(e)’s expenditure ban, which applied to individuals, corporations, and unions, because it “fail[ed] to serve any substantial governmental interest in stemming the reality or appearance of corruption in the electoral process,” id. , at 47–48. While Buckley did not consider a separate ban on corporate and union independent expenditures found in §610, had that provision been challenged in Buckley ’s wake, it could not have been squared with the precedent’s reasoning and analysis. The Buckley Court did not invoke the overbreadth doctrine to suggest that §608(e)’s expenditure ban would have been constitutional had it applied to corporations and unions but not individuals. Notwithstanding this precedent, Congress soon recodified §610’s corporate and union expenditure ban at 2 U. S. C. §441b, the provision at issue. Less than two years after Buckley, Bellotti reaffirmed the First Amendmentprinciple that the Government lacks the power to restrict political speech based on the speaker’s corporate identity. 435 U.S., at 784–785. Thus the law stood until Austin upheld a corporate independent expenditure restriction, bypassingBuckley and Bellotti by recognizing a new governmental interest in preventing “the corrosive and distorting effects of immense aggregations of [corporate] wealth … that have little or no correlation to the public’s support for the corporation’s political ideas.” 494 U. S., at 660. Pp. 25–32.
(c) This Court is confronted with conflicting lines of precedent: a pre-Austin line forbidding speech restrictions based on the speaker’s corporate identity and a post- Austin line permitting them. Neither Austin ’s antidistortion rationale nor the Government’s other justifications support §441b’s restrictions. Pp. 32–47.
(1) The First Amendment prohibits Congress from fining or jailing citizens, or associations of citizens, for engaging in political speech, but Austin’s antidistortion rationale would permit the Government to ban political speech because the speaker is an association with a corporate form. Political speech is “indispensable to decisionmaking in a democracy, and this is no less true because the speech comes from a corporation.” Bellotti, supra, at 777 (footnote omitted). This protection is inconsistent with Austin ’s rationale, which is meant to prevent corporations from obtaining “ ‘an unfair advantage in the political marketplace’ ” by using “ ‘resources amassed in the economic marketplace.’ ” 494 U. S., at 659. First Amendment protections do not depend on the speaker’s “financial ability to engage in public discussion.” Buckley ,supra, at 49. These conclusions were reaffirmed when the Court invalidated a BCRA provision that increased the cap on contributions to one candidate if the opponent made certain expenditures from personal funds. Davis v. Federal Election Comm’n , 554 U. S. ___, ___. Distinguishing wealthy individuals from corporations based on the latter’s special advantages of, e.g., limited liability, does not suffice to allow laws prohibiting speech. It is irrelevant for First Amendment purposes that corporate funds may “have little or no correlation to the public’s support for the corporation’s political ideas.” Austin, supra, at 660. All speakers, including individuals and the media, use money amassed from the economic marketplace to fund their speech, and the First Amendment protects the resulting speech. Under the antidistortion rationale, Congress could also ban political speech of media corporations. Although currently exempt from §441b, they accumulate wealth with the help of their corporate form, may have aggregations of wealth, and may express views “hav[ing] little or no correlation to the public’s support” for those views. Differential treatment of media corporations and other corporations cannot be squared with the First Amendment , and there is no support for the view that the Amendment’s original meaning would permit suppressing media corporations’ political speech.Austin interferes with the “open marketplace” of ideas protected by the First Amendment . New York State Bd. of Elections v. Lopez Torres , 552 U. S. 196 . Its censorship is vast in its reach, suppressing the speech of both for-profit and nonprofit, both small and large, corporations. Pp. 32–40.
(2) This reasoning also shows the invalidity of the Government’s other arguments. It reasons that corporate political speech can be banned to prevent corruption or its appearance. The Buckley Court found this rationale “sufficiently important” to allow contribution limits but refused to extend that reasoning to expenditure limits, 424 U.S., at 25, and the Court does not do so here. While a single Bellotti footnote purported to leave the question open, 435 U. S., at 788, n. 26, this Court now concludes that independent expenditures, including those made by corporations, do not give rise to corruption or the appearance of corruption. That speakers may have influence over or access to elected officials does not mean that those officials are corrupt. And the appearance of influence or access will not cause the electorate to lose faith in this democracy. Caperton v. A. T. Massey Coal Co. , 556 U. S. ___, distinguished. Pp. 40–45.
(3) The Government’s asserted interest in protecting shareholders from being compelled to fund corporate speech, like the antidistortion rationale, would allow the Government to ban political speech even of media corporations. The statute is underinclusive; it only protects a dissenting shareholder’s interests in certain media for 30 or 60 days before an election when such interests would be implicated in any media at any time. It is also overinclusive because it covers all corporations, including those with one shareholder. P. 46.
(4) Because §441b is not limited to corporations or associations created in foreign countries or funded predominately by foreign shareholders, it would be overbroad even if the Court were to recognize a compelling governmental interest in limiting foreign influence over the Nation’s political process. Pp. 46–47.
(d) The relevant factors in deciding whether to adhere to stare decisis,beyond workability—the precedent’s antiquity, the reliance interests at stake, and whether the decision was well reasoned—counsel in favor of abandoningAustin, which itself contravened the precedents of Buckley and Bellotti. As already explained, Austin was not well reasoned. It is also undermined by experience since its announcement. Political speech is so ingrained in this country’s culture that speakers find ways around campaign finance laws. Rapid changes in technology—and the creative dynamic inherent in the concept of free expression—counsel against upholding a law that restricts political speech in certain media or by certain speakers. In addition, no serious reliance issues are at stake. Thus, due consideration leads to the conclusion that Austin should be overruled. The Court returns to the principle established in Buckley andBellotti that the Government may not suppress political speech based on the speaker’s corporate identity. No sufficient governmental interest justifies limits on the political speech of nonprofit or for-profit corporations. Pp. 47–50.
3. BCRA §§201 and 311 are valid as applied to the ads for Hillary and to the movie itself. Pp. 50–57.
(a) Disclaimer and disclosure requirements may burden the ability to speak, but they “impose no ceiling on campaign-related activities,” Buckley , 424 U. S., at 64, or “ ‘ “prevent anyone from speaking,” ’ ” McConnell , supra , at 201. The Buckley Court explained that disclosure can be justified by a governmental interest in providing “the electorate with information” about election-related spending sources. The McConnell Court applied this interest in rejecting facial challenges to §§201 and 311. 540 U. S., at 196. However, the Court acknowledged that as-applied challenges would be available if a group could show a “ ‘reasonable probability’ ” that disclosing its contributors’ names would “ ‘subject them to threats, harassment, or reprisals from either Government officials or private parties.’ ” Id., at 198. Pp. 50–52.
(b) The disclaimer and disclosure requirements are valid as applied to Citizens United’s ads. They fall within BCRA’s “electioneering communication” definition: They referred to then-Senator Clinton by name shortly before a primary and contained pejorative references to her candidacy. Section 311 disclaimers provide information to the electorate, McConnell, supra, at 196, and “insure that the voters are fully informed” about who is speaking, Buckley ,supra , at 76. At the very least, they avoid confusion by making clear that the ads are not funded by a candidate or political party. Citizens United’s arguments that §311 is underinclusive because it requires disclaimers for broadcast advertisements but not for print or Internet advertising and that §311 decreases the quantity and effectiveness of the group’s speech were rejected in McConnell. This Court also rejects their contention that §201’s disclosure requirements must be confined to speech that is the functional equivalent of express advocacy under WRTL’ s test for restrictions on independent expenditures, 551 U. S., at 469–476 (opinion of R oberts , C.J.). Disclosure is the less-restrictive alternative to more comprehensive speech regulations. Such requirements have been upheld in Buckley and McConnell. Citizens United’s argument that no informational interest justifies applying §201 to its ads is similar to the argument this Court rejected with regard to disclaimers. Citizens United finally claims that disclosure requirements can chill donations by exposing donors to retaliation, but offers no evidence that its members face the type of threats, harassment, or reprisals that might make §201 unconstitutional as applied. Pp. 52–55.
(c) For these same reasons, this Court affirms the application of the §§201 and 311 disclaimer and disclosure requirements to Hillary . Pp. 55–56.
Reversed in part, affirmed in part, and remanded.
Kennedy, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Roberts, C. J., andScalia and Alito, JJ., joined, in which Thomas, J., joined as to all but Part IV, and in which Stevens, Ginsburg, Breyer, and Sotomayor, JJ., joined as to Part IV. Roberts, C. J., filed a concurring opinion, in which Alito, J., joined. Scalia, J., filed a concurring opinion, in which Alito, J., joined, and in which Thomas, J., joined in part. Stevens, J., filed an opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part, in which Ginsburg, Breyer , and Sotomayor, JJ., joined. Thomas, J.,filed an opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part.
Real Clear Politics is our favorite campaign watching website, and you'll see there that the race has become amazingly close, with current electoral college totals about as narrow as you can get: Obama / Biden: 277 Romney / Ryan: 261 Shades of the Bush v Gore Election 2000 fiasco? Probably NOT likely since that race hinged on a remarkably close state race in Florida as well as close electoral totals, but it's certainly possible that we'll see the same problems come up - or perhaps other flukes in our fluky system. Arguably the electoral college itself is a mistake, and we were disappointed that it was not abolished after the problems in 2000 where Al Gore won the popular vote only to lose the election due in main part to a poorly designed ballot in Palm Beach County, Florida (designed by Democrats, but a ballot that led to thousands of undervotes that almost certainly would have tipped the election in Gore's favor). Contrary to what many believe the Supreme Court decision to stop the recount did NOT change the outcome. The Bush v. Gore case, even if won by Gore, would still have led to a Bush victory since the counties where the vote count was challenged would not have changed the outcome using the most likely recount scenarios. Given the remaining weeks in the election, another debate looming, and hundreds of millions yet to be spent on advertising in battleground states it's no longer reasonable to assume Obama will coast to victory as many election watchers have suggested for many months. Romney's excellent performances in the debates have combined with massive outspending on the Romney side from the super pacs. The Political Action Committees have been fueled with millions per day thanks to the Supreme Court's decision to allow massive corporate contributions. Assuming a close election goes in Romney's favor it's almost impossible not to conclude that the decision in "Citizens United" changed the outcome given that spending will be much greater on the Romney side of the equation. If Obama wins it'll be fair to suggest that some observers exaggerated the role of this type of spending on elections. However in any case it's clear that money talks, and talks big, in American Politics. Only the naive can believe that our democracy remains in anything like a pristine ideal form where informed voters listen, learn, and participate in a transparent and open process resulting in the election of candidates that truly represent the will and consent of the governed. On the contrary we've got more of a marketing commercialized democracy where candidates are chosen as much by their ability to market themselves as for their ideological views, competence, or other virtues. http://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/2012/president/2012_elections_electoral_college_map.html
Friday, October 19, 2012
The Second Presidential Debate - really more of a Town Hall Meeting - between President Obama and Mitt Romney: Video from Youtube via New York Times
Thursday, October 11, 2012
REP. PAUL D. RYAN, R-WIS., VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE, AND VICE PRESIDENT JOSEPH R. BIDEN JR. PARTICIPATE IN A CANDIDATES DEBATE, DANVILLE, KENTUCKY
OCTOBER 11, 2012
SPEAKERS: VICE PRESIDENT JOSEPH R. BIDEN JR.
REP. PAUL D. RYAN, R-WIS.
MARTHA RADDATZ, MODERATOR [*] RADDATZ: Good evening, and welcome to the first and only vice presidential debate of 2012, sponsored by the Commission on Presidential Debates. I'm Martha Raddatz of ABC News, and I am honored to moderate this debate between two men who have dedicated much of their lives to public service.
Tonight's debate is divided between domestic and foreign policy issues. And I'm going to move back and forth between foreign and domestic, since that is what a vice president or president would have to do. We will have nine different segments. At the beginning of each segment, I will ask both candidates a question, and they will each have two minutes to answer. Then I will encourage a discussion between the candidates with follow-up questions.
By coin toss, it has been determined that Vice President Biden will be first to answer the opening question. We have a wonderful audience here at Centre College tonight. You will no doubt hear their enthusiasm at the end of the debate -- and right now, as we welcome Vice President Joe Biden and Congressman Paul Ryan.
OK, you got your little wave to the families in. It's great. Good evening, gentlemen. It really is an honor to be here with both of you.
I would like to begin with Libya. On a rather somber note, one month ago tonight, on the anniversary of 9/11, Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other brave Americans were killed in a terrorist attack in Benghazi. The State Department has now made clear, there were no protesters there.
RADDATZ: it was a pre-planned assault by heavily armed men. Wasn't this a massive intelligence failure, Vice President Biden?
BIDEN: What is was, it was a tragedy, Martha. It -- Chris Stevens was one of our best. We lost three other brave Americans.
RYAN: When you take a look at what has happened just in the last few weeks, they sent the U.N. ambassador out to say that this was because of a protest and a YouTube video. It took the president two weeks to acknowledge that this was a terrorist attack.
He went to the U.N. and in his speech at the U.N. he said six times -- he talked about the YouTube video.
Look, if we're hit by terrorists we're going to call it for what it is, a terrorist attack. Our ambassador in Paris has a Marine detachment guarding him. Shouldn't we have a Marine detachment guarding our ambassador in Benghazi, a place where we knew that there was an Al Qaida cell with arms?
This is becoming more troubling by the day. They first blamed the YouTube video. Now they're trying to blame the Romney-Ryan ticket for making this an issue.
With respect to Iraq, we had the same position before the withdrawal, which was we agreed with the Obama administration. Let's have a status of forces agreement to make sure that we secure our gains. The vice president was put in charge of those negotiations by President Obama and they failed to get the agreement. We don't have a status of forces agreement because they failed to get one. That's what we are talking about.
... continued here ...