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Nat Assn for Gun Rights v MT - Chilling 1A rights on 2A issue advocacy

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#1 Euler


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Posted 02 March 2020 - 08:10 PM

US Supreme Court docket

Whether the First Amendment permits imposing burdensome political-committee regulations upon groups that do not engage in any express advocacy for or against the nomination or election of a candidate.
The Ninth Circuit affirmed the District Court's judgment [for the defendant and against the petitioner] on August 12, 2019.
The National Association For Gun Rights, Inc. (NAGR), is a non-profit ... grassroots organization with 36,000 members and supporters in Montana .... Its mission is to "defend the right to keep and bear arms, and advance that God-given Constitutional right" by educating members of the public and "urging them to take action in the public policy process."
NAGR's activities include informing the public as to where legislators stand on issues related to the Second Amendment and inviting the public to express its views on these issues to legislators and other public officials. NAGR seeks to inform the public about officials' voting records by mailing educational literature to Montanans in 2020 describing those public officials who have supported the rights of citizens to keep and bear arms and engage in self defense, and those who have not.
NAGR does not desire to distribute this educational literature, however, if the literature will be deemed an "electioneering communication" under Montana law and thereby result in NAGR having to register as a Montana political committee.
Montana imposes political-committee regulations upon groups that spend as little as $250.01 on electioneering communications, thereby turning the groups into regulated political committees.
Montana's political-committee regulations, which.reach issue advocacy referencing not only candidates but also political parties, can chill even larger swaths of protected speech. For example, a group of Montanans that purchases 100 copies of Inside Montana Politics: A Reporter's View From the Trenches and distributes them shortly before an election makes an "expenditure" for an "electioneering communication" under Montana law and thereby becomes a political committee.

The likelihood of such large swaths of protected speech being unnecessarily regulated by Montana's overbroad political-committee statutes, and the likely possibility of other states following Montana's lead if the Ninth Circuit's decision is left undisturbed, make review by this Court essential.

The welfare of the people in particular has always been the alibi of tyrants, and it provides the further advantage of giving the servants of tyranny a good conscience.

- Albert Camus, Resistance, Rebellion, and Death, 1960.

#2 Molly B.

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Posted 02 March 2020 - 11:44 PM

Very interesting case.

"It does not take a majority to prevail ... but rather an irate, tireless minority, keen on setting brushfires of freedom in the minds of men." --Samuel Adams

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