Thanks to a rather hellish move (and that’s an understatement) I missed last Sunday’s podcast, but I was back this week on The Tim Corrimal Show with Tim (@timcorrimal on Twitter), Joe (@Marnus3) and Minna (@asiangrrlMN) to discuss the latest political hijinks (which, apparently, is sometimes spelt “high jinks,” which is entirely too posh for us) and all-around nuttery (which isn’t a word at all).
On this week’s show, after naming our Twitter Friends of the Week – @Penowski, @southerntalker, @AngryBlackLady and @JCTRambler (mine) – we moved on to our weekly 2012 election update. Tim played a rather remarkable clip of Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak singing the praises of Pres. Obama, leading into a discussion of Mitt Romney’s disastrous overseas trip in which he managed to offend the British and raise serious questions about his own fitness to be commander-in-chief.
We also played the audio portion of the Obama campaign’s television ad asking when Romney will release his tax returns (if ever), and a clip from Pres. Obama’s recent campaign stop in Ohio in which he blasted Romney’s plan for another $5 trillion tax cut (on top of the now 11 year old Bush tax cuts). That’s the plan that the non-partisan Tax Policy Center believes ultimately would require tax increases on middle class Americans. As the Washington Post reported July 31, 2012:
Mitt Romney’s plan to overhaul the tax code would produce cuts for the richest 5 percent of Americans — and bigger bills for everybody else, according to an independent analysis set for release Wednesday.
The study was conducted by researchers at the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, a joint project of the Brookings Institution and the Urban Institute, who seem to bend over backward to be fair to the Republican presidential candidate. To cover the cost of his plan — which would reduce tax rates by 20 percent, repeal the estate tax and eliminate taxes on investment income for middle-class taxpayers — the researchers assume that Romney would go after breaks for the richest taxpayers first.
They even look at what would happen if Republicans’ dreams for tax reform came true and the proposal generated significant revenue through economic growth.
None of it helped Romney. His rate-cutting plan for individuals would reduce tax collections by about $360 billion in 2015, the study says. To avoid increasing deficits — as Romney has pledged — the plan would have to generate an equivalent amount of revenue by slashing tax breaks for mortgage interest, employer-provided health care, education, medical expenses, state and local taxes, and child care — all breaks that benefit the middle class.
We then discussed Rush Limbaugh’s bizarre speculation that a “foreign dictator” might start a military conflict somewhere in the world in order to help Barack Obama –the preferred candidate of dictators everywhere, naturally – in the upcoming presidential election … an assertion made even more bizarre by the first “example” Limbaugh cited: The possibility that Israel might attack Iran. Ponder that weirdness for a moment.
Finally, we turned, for better or worse, to Sarah Palin and her two recent moments of crazy: First, when she attacked the DNC for offering that well known Marxist (?!) Elizabeth Warren an opportunity to speak at this year’s convention (no jealousy there, I’m sure); and, second, her legally frivolous assertion that the Chick-fil-A boycott somehow violates the First Amendment rights of Dan Cathy, Chick-fil-A’s CEO and proud supporter of anti-gay organizations.
That latter moment of crazy then led into my “Legal Corner” segment, wherein I reiterated a point made here late last week: That freedom of speech is a two-way street, and that criticism of a person’s speech does not, of course, amount to censorship of that person’s speech. Elaborating on that point – which should, of course, be obvious – I discussed the Supreme Court’s decision in NAACP v. Claiborne Hardware Co., 458 U.S. 886 (1982), in which the Court considered a civil lawsuit filed against various individuals and civil rights organizations arising out of a boycott of white-owned business in Claiborne County, Mississippi, which boycott began in 1966 and ran for at least seven years.
In Claiborne Hardware, the subject boycott began after local civil rights leaders issued a series of demands to elected officials in Claiborne County “for racial equality and integration”:
The complaints did not receive a satisfactory response and, at a local National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) meeting at the First Baptist Church, several hundred black persons voted to place a boycott on white merchants in the area. On October 31, 1969, several of the merchants filed suit in state court to recover losses caused by the boycott and to enjoin future boycott activity.
458 U.S. at 889.
The trial court in Mississippi awarded the white merchants substantial damages and entered an injunction barring the defendants from continuing the boycott. On appeal, the Mississippi Supreme Court threw out several of the plaintiffs’ claims but upheld the judgment against the defendants on the common law tort theory of malicious interference with the plaintiffs’ business. 458 U.S. at 894-95.
The U.S. Supreme Court, however, reversed the judgment in its entirety, concluding that the defendants could not be held liable for damages that flowed from the boycott under any theory of liability because the boycott itself constituted protected speech under the First Amendment:
The boycott of white merchants at issue in this case took many forms. The boycott was launched at a meeting of a local branch of the NAACP attended by several hundred persons. Its acknowledged purpose was to secure compliance by both civic and business leaders with a lengthy list of demands for equality and racial justice. The boycott was supported by speeches and nonviolent picketing. Participants repeatedly encouraged others to join in its cause.
Each of these elements of the boycott is a form of speech or conduct that is ordinarily entitled to protection under the First and Fourteenth Amendments. The black citizens named as defendants in this action banded together and collectively expressed their dissatisfaction with a social structure that had denied them rights to equal treatment and respect. As we so recently acknowledged in Citizens Against Rent Control/Coalition for Fair Housing v. Berkeley, 454 U.S. 290, 294 , “the practice of persons sharing common views banding together to achieve a common end is deeply embedded in the American political process.” We recognized that “by collective effort individuals can make their views known, when, individually, their voices would be faint or lost.” Ibid. In emphasizing “the importance of freedom of association in guaranteeing the right of people to make their voices heard on public issues,” id., at 295, we noted the words of Justice Harlan, writing for the Court in NAACP v. Alabama ex rel. Patterson, 357 U.S. 449, 460 :
“Effective advocacy of both public and private points of view, particularly controversial ones, is undeniably enhanced by group association, as this Court has more than once recognized by remarking upon the close nexus between the freedoms of speech and assembly.”
458 U.S. at 907-08.
So, getting back to the Chick-fil-A controversy, it’s beyond ironic that opponents of the boycott argue that it somehow violates the First Amendment rights of a wealthy corporate CEO when the Supreme Court has long recognized that civil rights boycotts are, in and of themselves, a time-honored form of protected speech under the First Amendment.
I guess some speakers are more equal than others, eh, Gov. Palin?
In any event, tune in and enjoy the show. We’ll be back next week with more hijinks. And nuttery.