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It’s sometimes difficult to adjudicate the the outer boundaries of freedom of expression — for what it’s worth, I prefer to stake as wide a claim as possible — but there shouldn’t be any disagreement over the protection’s core function: to ensure that citizens’ natural right to publicly and freely comment on public affairs goes unmolested. But in a recent and egregious case covered by the Cato Daily Podcast, Colorado resident Tammy Holland was hauled into civil court not once but twice for taking out a series of newspaper ads regarding Common Core and encouraging her neighbors to educate themselves on the matter and the upcoming school board election.
According to the Institute for Justice — which is representing Holland and has a full summary of her case — almost any allegation of campaign finance impropriety in Colorado automatically results in a court case without any discretion from law enforcement. As IJ puts it, this system effectively gives would-be censors the benefit of the doubt, while putting the burden of proof on speakers. It’s a monstrous and shameful inversion of how our political system is supposed to work.
In By the People, Charles Murray described the Institute for Justice as one of the models for his proposed “Madison Fund.” If you can spare a few dollars, there are few worthier recipients of your money. I just made a small donation myself.