Well, thumbing their nose at the Constitution (as usual), this travesty of a “campaign-reform” bill was passed by the House last night. Fortunately, it doesn’t take effect until the next election cycle, so there’s plenty of time for the Court to slap it back down into the moral swamp from which it arose.
I’d like to see Bush use some of his political capital and veto it, but he may be counting on the courts to solve the problem.
And if it somehow survives, I wonder if paying an ISP for webhosting services, and publishing a weblog criticizing a candidate, will qualify as “paid advertising” under the law, and thus become illegal. If not, there’s a silver lining here. Webloggers will suddenly have much more electoral influence than television stations and newspapers, and may be the place that people go to get their campaign information…
[Update at 2 PM PST]
An anonymous reader points to a story from a couple years ago describing a case in which a web site owner ran afoul of existing election law. This is a very scary precedent. Combine this FEC ruling with the atrocity occuring on the Hill right now, and webloggers may very well be in big trouble next election cycle.
[Samizdater Perry de Havilland weighs in]
Cool. Then Samizdata can live up to it’s name and act like an off-shore Samizdat for prohibited words. Intercourse [editor changed the original word–this is a family weblog…] the US laws… I am not in America and so they mean nothing to me, but my friends are in the US and we stand ready to be at their disposal.
Which raises the question of another loophole. Suppose I rehost my domain offshore. Does the law still apply? Or am I still breaking the law because I’m a US citizen? How about if I post anonymously (Samizdat style, so to speak)? Will the FEC Gestapo trace the packets to find out who’s creating the posts?
This law is really a civil liberties disaster, and I suspect that even if the courts don’t knock it down with extreme prejudice, it will quickly collapse from its own internal contradictions come election season…