November 3, 2005

Congress Defeats the Online Freedom of Speech Act

Carroll Andrew Morse

Yesterday, the United States House of Representatives failed to pass the Online Freedom of Speech Act. The act would have exempted the Internet from campaign finance regulations. The bill received majority support, but failed because it required a 2/3 majority for procedural reasons. Instapundit has a round-up here.

The bill's sponsor, Congressman Jeb Hensarling, plans to bring the bill up again under circumstances where it will require only a simple majority to pass. To become law, the bill will also need Senate approval.

Until an Internet exemption to campaign finance reform is passed, it is only a matter of time until an over-reaching judge or a partisan bureaucrat decides that some or all political speech on the Internet can constitute an in-kind contribution that needs to be reported, regulated and limited.

Congressman Patrick Kennedy voted to exempt the Internet from campaign finance regulations.
Congressman James Langevin voted against exempting the Internet from campaign finance regulations. Given that Congressmanís Langevinís previous job was facilitating democracy as Rhode Islandís Secretary of State, his decision not to support online freedom of speech is particularly disappointing.

Curiously (or entirely predictably, depending on your political perspective), as a party, Republicans voted in favor of the act, 179-46; while Democrats voted against, 38-143. Socialist Bernie Sanders from Vermont, staying true to the socialist principle that government should control all aspects of life, voted with the Democratic majority.