First Amendment

  • September 17, 2019    |    Scholarly Articles

    The question of whether the Constitution allows the government to change the meanings of words is receiving renewed interest in the aftermath of the FDA’s announcement that it intends to examine whether it should begin enforcing milk “standard of identity” regulations. These restrict the use of the word “milk” to cow’s milk and thus ban…

  • October 1, 2016    |    Strategic Research

    Putting Licensing to the Test

    How Licenses for Tour Guides Fail Consumers—and Guides

    More Americans than ever need a license to work. But what do occupational licenses actually accomplish? This case study of one such license adds to a growing body of research that suggests this red tape does nothing but create needless barriers to work. It finds that a licensing scheme for tour guides in the District…

  • March 16, 2015    |    Scholarly Articles

    In May 2013, newspaper columnist John Rosemond received a cease-and-desist letter from the Kentucky Board of Examiners of Psychology informing him that his syndicated column — in which he answers readers’ questions about parenting — constitutes the unlicensed and, hence, criminal practice of psychology. Although the Board concedes that Rosemond may publish general advice about…

  • May 27, 2013    |   

    The Public’s Right to Know versus Compelled Speech

    What Does Social Science Research Tell Us about the Benefits and Costs of Campaign Finance Disclosure in Non-Candidate Elections?

    In this Article, we question neither the desirability of creating transparency in the ties between candidates and their contributors, nor the efficacy of disclosure regulations in affecting this end. This is despite the fact that several recent studies cast doubt on the extent to which state campaign finance laws reduce either corruption or the appearance…

  • October 1, 2011    |    Strategic Research

    Full Disclosure

    How Campaign Finance Disclosure Laws Fail to Inform Voters and Stifle Public Debate

    Publicly disclosing contributions to ballot issue campaigns does little to help voters make better choices—and instead imposes substantial costs on people wishing to participate in politics.

  • September 1, 2010    |    Strategic Research

    Keep Out

    How State Campaign Finance Laws Erect Barriers to Entry for Political Entrepreneurs

    Campaign-finance laws protect political insiders by making it harder for upstart citizen groups to form and bring new voices to public debate.

  • August 1, 2010    |    Strategic Research

    The best available evidence suggests that funding political campaigns with public dollars does little to reduce special interest influence, encourage competitive races or boost political participation.

  • April 1, 2010    |    Strategic Research

    Mowing Down the Grassroots

    How Grassroots Lobbying Disclosure Supresses Political Participation

    Grassroots lobbying—encouraging citizens to contact public officials in order to affect public policy—is quintessential representative democracy in action. However, as this report documents, sweeping lobbying laws in 36 states threaten to strangle grassroots movements in red tape and bureaucratic regulation. Such common activities as publishing an open letter, organizing a demonstration or distributing flyers can…

  • March 1, 2010    |    Scholarly Articles

    President Obama’s domestic policies have generated opposition among many in the general public and mobilized previously uninvolved citizens. This opposition has manifested itself in public rallies, “tea party” protests, and spirited feedback at town hall meetings. Supporters of the president’s policies have accused those participating of being part of a larger, organized conspiracy or, at…

  • November 1, 2009    |    Scholarly Articles

    Attack Ballot Issue Disclosure Root and Branch

    Comment on A Cold Breeze in California: ProtectMarriage Reveals the Chilling Effect of Campaign Finance Disclosure on Ballot Measure Issue Advocacy

    For years, the lower federal and many state courts have given short shrift to the First Amendment rights of those who wish to contribute money to groups that advocate the passage or defeat of ballot measures. Twenty-four states allow legislation to be passed in this manner, and in every one, the law requires groups advocating…

  • June 1, 2009    |    Strategic Research

    Locking Up Political Speech

    How Electioneering Communications Laws Stifle Free Speech and Civic Engagement

    Americans were once free to speak about politics without asking permission from the government or being forced to document their political activities for the authorities.  But under the guise of “campaign finance reform,” government regulation of political speech has metastasized, spreading far beyond the mere financing of campaigns to monitor and control everyday political speech…

  • June 1, 2009    |    Strategic Research

    Campaign Finance Red Tape

    Strangling Free Speech & Political Debate

    Twenty-four states permit citizens to make laws directly through ballot measures. These states also regulate how citizens—if they band together—may speak out about them. In the name of “disclosure,” these regulations impose complicated registration and reporting requirements, administered by state bureaucrats, on political speech and activity by any citizen group that joins the public debate…

  • April 2, 2009    |    Scholarly Articles

    This research examines some of the assumptions inherent in discussions of campaign-finance disclosure laws as they relate to ballot issues. Specifically, it tests the theory that mandatory disclosure contributes to “better” (that is, more informed) voters by (a) examining respondents’ support for disclosure, (b) exploring the idea of the “chilling” nature of disclosure (if respondents…

  • February 1, 2009    |    Strategic Research

    Designed to Exclude

    How Interior Design Insiders Use Government Power to Exclude Minorities & Burden Consumers

    Americans used to be free to practice interior design work and succeed or fail based solely on their skills. But, to the detriment of consumers and would-be entrepreneurs, that is changing. The American Society of Interior Designers, an industry trade group, would like state governments to define what it means to be an interior designer…

  • February 1, 2009    |    Scholarly Articles

    The right to free speech, including the right to speak out about who should be elected to public office, is a fundamental American right, essential to democratic debate. So, too, is the right of individuals to band together and pool their resources to make their advocacy more eff ective. Th e Founders recognized this, and…

  • February 1, 2009    |    Scholarly Articles

    In a “clean elections” system, taxpayer funded candidates must agree to limit their campaign spending. Imposing limits on campaign spending for candidates who forego taxpayer dollars and instead run traditional campaigns would be unconstitutional. Most clean elections schemes thus rely on “matching,” “rescue,” or “trigger” funds to level the playing fi eld between publicly funded…

  • September 1, 2008    |    Strategic Research

    Designed to Mislead

    How Industry Insiders Mislead the Public About the Need for Interior Design Regulation

    Do people who design interiors “mislead” the public when they call themselves “interior designers” without government permission? Industry insiders advocating greater regulation say yes, but practicing interior designers who simply want to accurately describe what they do say no. This report tests each side’s claims. Using an opinion poll and a survey of leading industry…

  • November 1, 2007    |    Strategic Research

    Designing Cartels

    How Industry Insiders Cut Out Competition

    This report examines titling laws, little-known regulations that require people practicing certain professions to gain government permission to use a specific title, such as “interior designer,” to describe their work. Although titling laws receive little attention from the political, policy or research communities, they often represent the first step toward a better-known regulation—occupational licensing, which…

  • March 1, 2007    |    Strategic Research

    Disclosure Costs

    Unintended Consequences of Campaign Finance Reform

    This study examines the impact of one of the most common features of campaign finance regulations: mandatory disclosure of contributions and contributors’ personal information. While scholars have looked at the effects of other kinds of campaign finance regulations, such as contribution and spending limits and public financing of campaigns, very little work has examined the…

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