Home > Free Speech > Free Speech Week 2013: South Dakota SB200 passed and violates free speech

Free Speech Week 2013: South Dakota SB200 passed and violates free speech

October 25, 2013

1322756701Free Speech Week 2013 continues. For today’s post I thought it would be worth looking at a free speech related item from the South Dakota Freedom Index scorecard. Specifically item number three is about political free speech. This from the index:

Freedom of Speech, Press
Senator Kirkeby introduced SB 200, a bill to criminalize anonymous political communication. Previously, state law mandated anyone spending $1000 or more on political communications, especially within 60 days of an election, to register with the SD Secretary of State and/or publish a disclaimer with the political communication. SB 200 changed the threshold on expenditures to $100 or more (including any in-kind donations) any day of the year. Violation is a misdemeanor. Political surveys and periodicals such as newspapers are exempt.

The SD Bill of Rights says, “Every person may freely [communicate] on all subjects.” The United States would likely have never become a nation nor ratified its Constitution without the use of anonymous political communication. Still, laws against slander and libel were enforced. Bills such as SB 200 tend to be used to silence political enemies through regulation, threats, and lawsuits. It passed the House 61-8 on Mar. 5, 2013 and passed the Senate 34-0 two days later. We have assigned pluses to the nays.

SB200 was a bill to “revise certain provisions concerning campaign finance”. As a political blogger I find this bills passage into law very troubling. Our legislators in Pierre have fallen for the war against the Citizens United that has been waging at the national level. During Free Speech Week 2012 I wrote a post about Citizens United. In that post I made the case tools of free speech, money specifically, should NOT be regulated by the government. Similar arguments could be used against SB200.

SB200 prevents the average citizens from exercising their political free speech anonymously. Without anonymity our country could never have grown to the wonderfully diverse society it has become. If someone is against the anonymous free speech of others they should use their free speech rights to put a different message out. Regulating political free speech just because some people hate ‘money in politics’ or because politicians ‘feel attacked’ is not the right direction for the United States, or South Dakota.

Instead of trying to create regulations to squelch political free speech our legislators should be working to strengthen free speech. Sadly most of our politicians in Pierre do not put free speech high on their priority list. I would like to thank the following legislators in the South Dakota House of Representatives that voted No to restricting free speech:

Feinstein (D-14)
Hawks (D-9)
Kaiser (R-3)
Kirschman (D-15)
Peterson (D-4)
Ring (D-17)
Schrempp (D-28A)
Wismer (D-1)

Unfortunately I am not able to thank any South Dakota Senators. None of them opposed this bill.

The SD Freedom Index scorecard brought up section 5 (free speech) of the SD Bill of rights. I would like to close this post with a portion of Section 26 because I feel SB200 attacked the concept of free government:

All political power is inherent in the people, and all free government is founded on their authority

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