CFIF Urges Supreme Court of North Dakota to Protect Free Speech
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 7, 2006
Contact: Timothy H. Lee
Director of Legal and Public Affairs
(703) 535-5836CFIF Urges Supreme Court of North Dakota to Protect Free Speech
"Today, with unconstitutional regulations such as McCain/Feingold already stifling Americans' free speech rights during critical election periods, individual states simply have no right to restrict cross-state political speech," said Timothy Lee, the Center's Director of Legal and Public Affairs.
At issue in the case, FreeEats.com, Inc. v. North Dakota, is a North Dakota statute that stifles interstate telecommunications delivering critical political information and gathering important political data. Specifically, the statute prohibits telephonic communications using cost-effective automatic dialing devices, even if they originate outside of North Dakota. In doing so, it eliminates yet another means by which grassroots organizations such as CFIF can reach voters.
A lower North Dakota court erroneously upheld the statute, despite the fact that it explicitly contradicts the First Amendment and multiple federal statutes prohibiting states from censoring interstate telecommunications. Interstate telecommunications, particularly those involving core political speech, are subject exclusively to federal control.
"If the statute is allowed to stand, only powerful special interests such as George Soros's liberal ACT will have the ability to distribute information and spread their message," Lee added. "In light of important national, state and local elections, this case takes on even greater urgency. It is therefore incumbent upon the North Dakota Supreme Court to overturn the unconstitutional state law."
Given the high cost of broadcast communications today, not to mention Byzantine McCain/Feingold regulations, the ability to efficiently and inexpensively reach voters via telephonic communications is critical, and no state has the right to silence cross-state communications. A non-broadcast safety valve for political speech is critical, particularly during an important election season. This regulation further undermines competitive electoral politics, makes political speech more costly, and adds further regulations and government bureaucracy.
Unless this unconstitutional statute is overturned, other states will have a green light to further raise the costs of communicating with the public, effectively walling off citizens from an efficient and effective means of communication.
For this reason, CFIF urges the North Dakota Supreme Court to correctly recognize the state statute as an unconstitutional restriction upon free speech and overturn the law.
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