Rule of thumb: don’t enact today laws that, had they been obeyed by folks in the original 13 states of our union, would have prevented independence.
Voters in Missouri, South Dakota, and Washington have the “opportunity” to enact such laws this November.
In “Beware of Anti-Speech Ballot Measures,” Tracy Sharp and Darcy Olsen, presidents of the State Policy Center and the Goldwater Institute, respectively, offer a warning. Focusing on Measure 22, the South Dakota Government Accountability and Anti-Corruption Act, they show how dangerous notions like forcing “nonprofit organizations to report the names and addresses of their donors to the state government” can be.
Such disclosure would subject non-profits “to possible investigation by an unelected ethics board that is given the power to subpoena private documents and overrule decisions made by the state attorney general. . . .” Rogue, star-chamber government.
No. Sharp and Olsen highlight a famous U.S. Supreme Court case that protected the NAACP from the state’s demand for the group’s funding sources. Both women also offer personal tales of how nasty the opposition (in government and out) can become when big issues are on the line.
I can personally attest.
These measures fly in the face of what really matters — encouraging robust public debate. Democracy doesn’t work when people dread participation. As our authors challenge, “[d]o we want America to be a country where government keeps public lists of law-abiding citizens because they dare to support causes they believe in?”
Especially when, without the secret (unreported!) activities of the Committees of Correspondence, the USA would not have become united states in the first place.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.
Original (cc) photo by Michael Tracey on Flickr