Friday, March 5, 2021

Last Call For Block This Tweet

Apparently, Republicans are such bastions of freedom that they want to legislate that the final word on banning social media accounts for violating terms of service through violent rhetoric or racist/sexist language would solely be up to...let me check my notes here..."The Attorney General of the Great State of Arkansas."

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge announced legislation on Thursday that would limit who social media platforms can block from their platforms. This comes as GOP lawmakers across the country rally against big tech platforms.

The AR Voices: Combating Cancel Culture and Protecting Freedom of Speech bill states that social media sites, like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and others would be held liable for damages when they unfairly censoring or banning someone. The bill goes on to say if the websites do not act in “good faith” they will have violated the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act (ADTPA) and can be held accountable by the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office.

“Cancel culture cannot become the norm in Arkansas, especially when our Freedom of Speech in rural America is in jeopardy,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “This legislation would allow everyone, no matter the circumstances to have an equal and fair opportunity to post online and if a social media giant does not comply, the company can be held accountable.”

In Arkansas, each violation of the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act could result in injunctions and civil penalties of up to $10,000.

Sen. Ricky Hill, R-Cabot, and Rep. Brian Evans, R- Cabot are cosponsoring HB 1647.

Republicans have called out social media platforms for censoring conservatives and showing bias in taking accounts down; especially after Facebook and Twitter suspended former President Donald Trump's accounts in January after he was accused of invoking an insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

In 2018, a Republican Arkansas representative proposed a bill that would allow social media websites to be sued for removing certain religious and political posts, whether or not the platforms deem the posts to be hate speech. But the bill was withdrawn days later.

So if the Attorney General of Arkansas determines a Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, etc. account was disabled without acting in "good faith", whatever that means is apparently solely up to the AG under this statute, then a $10,000 fine per account blocked, because as we all know the Republican party only exists in 2021 to serve Donald Trump's white supremacist cult of violence. 

This is really all about revenge, with enough red states passing legislation like this, social media companies would be liable for millions in civil damages for blocking racist Republicans...but only Republicans. I'm betting Leslie Rutledge here wouldn't mind a bit if anyone left of Susan Collins was banned from Twitter or yanked from Facebook.

In the end, the GOP want to make sure their voices are heard...and ours are silenced. It's what fascists do, folks.

A Supreme Disappointment, Con't

Supreme Court Justice Amy Comey Barrett is going to be handing down decisions for decades, and nobody should be surprised that her first missive is substantially rolling back what can be disclosed under the Freedom of Information Act, because apparently the First Amendment isn't goddamn Constitutional enough.

Justice Amy Coney Barrett penned her first Supreme Court majority opinion on Thursday, writing a 7-2 decision that will shield federal agencies from having to disclose certain materials under an exception to the Freedom of Information Act. 
Barrett's debut majority opinion came in a case that was the first she heard as a justice, back on November 2. 
The case at hand concerned FOIA, a law designed to allow the public greater access to records from the government. It mandates the disclosure of documents held by a federal agency unless they fall within certain exceptions. 
On Thursday, the court narrowed the category of documents subject to release, dealing a loss to those seeking more government transparency and who argue that FOIA was meant to lift the curtain and give the public insight into a government's decision-making process. 
The Sierra Club and other groups had brought the challenge, seeking more information about an Environmental Protection Agency 2014 rule concerning the operation of cooling water intake structures and whether they would hurt protected species. 
Specifically, the groups sought records related to the US Fish and Wildlife Service's and National Marine Fisheries Service's consultations with the EPA. Although the services turned over thousands of documents, they invoked the "deliberative process privilege" for some draft opinions. 
"The deliberative process privilege protects the draft biological opinions at issue here because they reflect a preliminary view -- not a final decision -- about the likely effect of the EPA's proposed rule on endangered species," Barrett wrote. She said the drafts by the agencies never had final approval, hadn't been sent to the EPA and were "predecisional and deliberative."
Never ask how the sausage is made, it's "predecisional and deliberative". Disappointed in Elena Kagan, too, as she joined the six conservatives.
Still, expect decades of this from Barrett.

It's About Stopping Suppression

House Democrats have passed HR 1, the For The People act, a major reform package of voting rights and security measures that the party of white supremacist voter suppression all voted against, and a bill that has no chance whatsoever against the GOP Senate filibuster.

The House late Wednesday night passed expansive legislation to create uniform national voting standards, overhaul campaign finance laws and outlaw partisan redistricting, advancing a centerpiece of the Democratic voting rights agenda amid fierce Republican attacks that threaten to stop it cold in the Senate.

The bill, titled the “For the People Act,” was given the symbolic designation of H.R. 1 by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), and it largely mirrors a bill passed two years ago in the early weeks of the House Democratic majority.

This year, however, the bill has taken on additional significance because of the new Democratic majority in the Senate and President Biden’s November win, as well as the efforts underway in dozens of Republican-controlled state legislatures to roll back voting access in reaction to former president Donald Trump’s loss and his subsequent campaign to question the election results.

Democrat after Democrat said this week that the GOP’s state-level efforts made it more important than ever to act at the federal level to preserve expansive voting laws. Many invoked the gains won in the 1960s civil rights movement by activists including John Lewis, the Georgia Democrat who died of cancer last year.

“The right to vote is under attack,” said Rep. Terri A. Sewell (D-Ala.). “Voter suppression is alive and well. Old battles have become new again. The legacy of the foot soldiers like John Lewis requires that we pick up that baton — the baton of voter access, the baton of voter equality — and we continue the next leg. Their cause is now our cause, too.”

The bill’s voting provisions would guarantee no-excuse mail voting and at least 15 days of early voting for federal elections; require states to use their existing government records to automatically register citizens to vote; restore voting rights to felons who have completed their prison sentences; and mandate the use of paper ballots.

Other provisions would create new disclosure requirements for “dark money” donations to political groups; require states to appoint independent commissions to draw congressional districts; and create new federal standards for election equipment vendors.

The bill also would require tech platforms to disclose political advertising information; establish a code of ethics for Supreme Court justices for the first time; restructure the Federal Election Commission to an odd number of members to break partisan deadlocks; and require presidential candidates to disclose their tax returns.

The bill has become a lightning rod for Republican opposition, spurring claims that it is a partisan attempt to rewrite federal election laws in Democrats’ favor. No Republicans voted for the bill in 2019 or Wednesday night, when it was approved 220 to 210
Republicans will do everything they can to stop this bill in the Senate, because if they don't, they're done. And even if by some miracle the bill does pass, I guarantee you that the Roberts Court will strike it down saying that the federal government has no business telling states how to run federal elections.
Go figure.
The key here it to watch who blames the Democrats for this bill failing. The bill will absolutely fail because every single Republican will vote against it. This will happen until something is done about the filibuster, which will never happen, and Dems will lose the House and Senate in 2022 when they are blamed instead of the Republicans who will sink every bill in the Senate.

And so it goes.




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