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In Defense of Private Civic Engagement: Why the Assault on ‘Dark Money’ Threatens Free Speech – and How to Stop the Assault

April 20, 2015

Being able to speak freely and donate money anonymously has a long and distinguished history in the U.S. The Declaration of Independence, the campaigns for approval of the U.S.

Policy-Study

Being able to speak freely and donate money anonymously has a long and distinguished history in the U.S. The Declaration of Independence, the campaigns for approval of the U.S. Constitution and the end of slavery, and the modern civil rights movement all relied for their success on the right to keep private the identities of persons expressing their opinions or financing unpopular causes.

Today, that right is under attack by groups on the Left using Alinskyite tactics and campaign finance laws to silence and intimidate anyone who disagrees with them. The right to participate anonymously in debates over matters of public policy is more important than ever.

In a new Heartland Policy Study, “In Defense of Private Civic Engagement: Why the Assault on ‘Dark Money’ Threatens Free Speech – and How to Stop the Assault,” constitutional scholar Nick Dranias notes, “private civic engagement serves a critically important purpose in keeping the marketplace of ideas focused on the message, not the messenger. It also protects the messenger from retaliation when speaking truth to power.”

To protect individual liberty, we must find ways to reinvigorate our nation’s heritage of protecting the right to engage anonymously in civic causes. Dranias provides a roadmap for doing just that.

Author
Nick Dranias is a policy advisor and research fellow for The Heartland Institute.
ndranias@ndlawpolicy.com @NickDranias

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