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Poll: Virginia residents prioritize safe spaces over free speech on campus

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According a recent poll administered in Virginia, half of Virginia residents are more concerned about proper safe spaces than the issue of free speech.

Poll: Virginia residents prioritize safe spaces over free speech on campus

Virginia residents would rather give up free speech than safe spaces.

Virginia Commonwealth University’s Office of Public Policy Outreach, which conducted the poll over the summer, found that 50 percent of Virginians supported “protecting everyone on campus from discrimination, even if it means there are negative consequences for voicing one’s opinions.”

Conversely, 40 percent of those polled said they felt that unlimited freedom of speech was more important than protecting students from discrimination. Ten percent of those polled were undecided.

“University administrators frequently face difficult tradeoffs, especially as we consider the conte

xt of controversial demonstrations on or near college campuses,” said the Public Policy Outreach director, Dr. Robyn McDougle.

“On one hand, universities have long traditions of robust debate and free speech, but increasingly administrators are called on to ensure zones of safety from ongoing discrimination for students and other members of campus communities,” said McDougle. “These results show Virginians are divided over which to emphasize, with a very narrow majority believing that protection from discrimination should receive a higher emphasis than unlimited expression.”

Among registered Democrats polled, 57 percent believed safe spaces and preventing discrimination should be more important than unlimited free speech, while only 40 percent of Republicans agreed.

Virginia Secretary of Education Dietra Trent said that while free speech was important, protecting students from harm should also be a top priority.

“Robust debate is the hallmark of an effective education, but we must be mindful of any situation that threatens physical safety on our campuses,” Trent said. “Virginia’s schools can, must, and do provide a safe space for both vulnerable students and dissenting ideas.”

The poll was conducted between July 17-25 by landline and cellphone and surveyed 806 adults with a margin of error of 4.2 percentage points.

Source:  TheBlaze.  We have added section headings, information, and/or comments for clarity.

James Madison’s Lesson on Free Speech

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For the people to rule wisely, they must be free to think and speak without fear of reprisal.  Those that disagree with free speech and free thought should be fought with more free speech and free thought.
James Madisons Lessons on Free Speech
The broad middle of this country seems caught between a rock and a hard place. On the far left, the “Antifa” movement has taken to protesting — often quite violently — ideas that do not conform to their transitory notions of social justice. On the other extreme, the alt-right has become indistinguishable from white-supremacist and neo-Confederate movements that have their origins in the seedy underbelly of American political history.
In light of this, it is seductive to question the utility of free speech. After all, speech is not entirely free in Europe. There are certain views you are prohibited from publicly expressing there, and they seem to have well-functioning democracies. Why must we hold to such an absolutist view? Are we not giving aid and comfort to the opponents of the republic by allowing them to utter such vile words? Is it not wiser to leaven the First Amendment with a prudent disregard for the fringes?
If we understand free speech in purely liberal terms — i.e. as a self-evident right — then these questions seem to have merit. After all, we restrict other rights for the sake of the public welfare. Most of them can be taken away, so long as it is done so with “due process.” And the process that is due, in many respects, is conditioned by the political, social, and economic climate of the day. Why not speech?
But the First Amendment is not merely an expression of liberal freedom, but of republican freedom as well. The liberal conception of liberty defines it as absence of government interference from your life — or, in its 20th-century evolution, liberty means that the government provides for a certain standard of living. But the republican notion of liberty is different. A free republic is one in which people are governed by laws that they themselves have a hand in making. From this perspective, freedom of speech needs to remain nearly absolute.
To appreciate this, consider the efforts of the man most responsible for the Bill of Rights, James Madison.
Madison was not so much the author of the Bill of Rights, but its editor. He was initially opposed to the project; the structure of the Constitution offered sufficient protection for civil liberty, he thought, and he feared that an enumeration of rights would imply a limitation to them. But the ratifying conventions in many states had approved the Constitution, with suggested revisions. Madison, who viewed these conventions as tribunes of the popular will, took their recommendations seriously. As George Washington’s de facto prime minister during the first session of the First Congress, he refined the wide array of proposals into what ultimately became the Bill of Rights.
In The Federalist Papers, Madison can come across as deeply suspicious of popular government. In Federalist No. 10 he bemoaned the “violence of faction” and sought to design a government that can corral the inherently selfish passions of humanity. In Federalist No. 51, he added checks and balances as “auxiliary precautions” to further thwart misrule.
Yet this is only one side of the Madisonian coin. Admittedly, he wanted to slow the tempo of government down to a crawl, to prevent fractious majorities from railroading minority rights and undermining the public welfare. But he also hoped to promote a robust intercourse of sentiments, so that — in due course — public opinion would cohere around principles of justice and the general welfare. Government had to move slowly and cautiously, but public discourse should be vigorous and unfettered.
“Public opinion,” he wrote in the National Gazette, in December 1791, “sets bounds to every government, and is the real sovereign in every free one.” But in a large republic such as the United States, it is “less easy to be ascertained, and . . . less difficult to be counterfeited.” It was thus key, he argued, to facilitate “a general intercourse of sentiments,” which included roads and commerce, as well as “a free press, and particularly a circulation of newspapers through the entire body of the people.”
In Madison’s view, a free republic depends ultimately upon public opinion. A Constitution could divide power this way and that, but in the end it is the people, and only the people, who rule. And for the people to rule wisely, they have to be able to communicate with one another — freely, without fear of reprisal. Thus, freedom of speech and press were not, for Madison, merely God-given rights. They were preconditions for self-government.
Conversely, Madison believed that those who sought to restrict speech revealed themselves to be opponents of republicanism. They wished to prevent public opinion from cohering, thus making it easier to counterfeit. This is why Madison and Thomas Jefferson — Jefferson himself was a staunch republican — reacted so strongly to the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798, which restricted immigration and made it a crime to print “libelous” comments about government officers. Madison and Jefferson’s Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions called for state intervention to correct the abuses of the government (for Madison this implied “interposition,” but for Jefferson it could include “nullification”). Decades later, their resolves would be repurposed for the cause of secession, but they were actually an effort to prevent the Federalist party under John Adams from undermining the very basis of the national republic itself.
Madison’s tenure as president — 1809 to 1817 — has come in for a good bit of criticism over the years. It was, in many respects, an unspectacular administration, in no small part because of the disappointments of the War of 1812. But it is easy to overlook that although Madison was managing a relatively unpopular and difficult conflict, he did not sanction the abridgement of civil liberties. On the other hand, Abraham Lincoln, Woodrow Wilson, and Franklin Roosevelt — all of whom tend to score higher in historical rankings — did not show such restraint. This speaks well of Madison’s commitment to the importance of free speech.
None of this means that we should excuse the boorish and ignorant among us, those who seek to incite popular unrest for the sake of their small-minded prejudices. Instead, Madison’s commitment to free speech should serve as a reminder that, while people say things that we might find personally offensive, we should never wish the state to squash their right to do so. Our First Amendment freedoms combined — freedom of religion, of assembly and petition, of press and speech — give us the right to think what we like and say what we please. And if we the people are to govern ourselves, we must have these rights, even if they are misused by a minority.
As we confront those who use their right to free speech to abuse the norms of decency and civility, we should calmly recall Jefferson’s admonition from his first inaugural address. “If there be any among us who would wish to dissolve this Union or to change its republican form, let them stand undisturbed as monuments of the safety with which error of opinion may be tolerated where reason is left free to combat it.”
Source:  NationalReview.   We have added section headings, information, and/or comments for clarity.

Christian Leftist Zack Hunt’s Mindless Religious War Against Donald Trump

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Zack Hunt is the Friar Tuck of his corner of the left-wing #Resistance™, a bona fide theologian lending ‘Christian’ cover to what would otherwise typically be a godless movement.

Christian Leftist Zack Hunt’s Mindless Religious War Against Donald Trump

Using some weird combination of a self-serving misinterpretation of Matthew 12:30 and the classic “No True Scotsman” fallacy, to some you can’t be a “real” Christian unless you’re adamantly against President Trump and his agenda.

Enter Zack Hunt, a Yale Divinity School-educated writer, speaker, and blogger who writes about “the intersection of faith and politics” for well-known Christian websites like Christianity Today, Red Letter Christians, and Ministry Matters. His writing has also been picked up by the hyper-liberal HuffPost, which likely says more about Hunt’s political leanings.

Although I could cite plenty of leftist Christian thinkers, Hunt is the perfect case study for the Christian liberal mindset regarding President Trump. He’s a fine writer and a clear, if extremely biased, thinker whose rise in the left-wing blogosphere has coincided with Trump’s political success. If Michael Moore is the Robin Hood and Maxine Waters is the patron saint, Hunt is at least the Friar Tuck of his own ever-growing corner of the left-wing #Resistance™, a theologian lending “Christian” cover to what would otherwise typically be a godless movement.

The Bible Perfectly Fits My Politics

While most liberals probably wouldn’t know a Bible from a copy of “Das Kapital,” liberal anti-Trump theologians like Hunt don’t hesitate to use it as a bludgeon against conservatives, ignoring its inconvenient truths and twisting the words of Jesus to portray the Son of God as some sort of ’60s-era hippie whose primary goal, if he walked the earth today, would be to keep Obamacare and fill Europe and America with as many Muslim refugees as possible.

It’s called “proof-texting” and everyone does it to some degree, except Hunt and others like him take it to another level. If you selected certain “red-letter” words of Jesus, then take them exactly at face value, ignoring common sense and the rest of the Bible, maybe you’ll get the “liberal” Jesus Hunt envisions, but as the HuffPo writer would himself say, conservatives see an entirely different lord and savior.

Of course, legitimate disagreements about the practical implications of Jesus’s teachings are fine, but Hunt also uses his platform to excoriate Christian leaders who have supported President Trump, and much of his vitriol of late has been directed at Liberty University’s Jerry Falwell Jr.

In 2015, after Falwell Jr. famously dared to suggest to his student body that a concealed-carry permit-holder might stop an Islamic terrorist attack before it starts, Hunt wrote, “Jerry Falwell Jr. can carry a gun into sacred space and call for the death of his enemies even though Jesus unequivocally declared ‘Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also,’ and ‘Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.’”

Are we to believe that Jesus was actually teaching that we aren’t to protect the innocent or even ourselves from any violent attack? Would Hunt sit idly by and allow his wife to be raped and his children slaughtered in front of him? Of course not, but that is his “advice” to those who would follow Christ. Such is the utter depravity of liberal “values.”

Remember that Commandment about False Witness?

On August 16, Hunt wrote via Facebook, “Jerry Falwell Jr. took to Twitter this morning to praise Donald Trump’s defense of white supremacists and neo-Nazis.” The next day, he used the same “logic” while posting this stunning indictment of the majority of Republicans: “67% of Republicans agree with Donald Trump’s defense of white supremacists and neo-Nazis in Charlottesville, VA. Not coincidentally, Pew Research reports that 86% of Republican voters are white. It’s not exactly breaking news, but it bears repeating: the Republican Party has a white supremacy problem.”

Word games, of course, but they generally copy liberal talking-points to portray Trump as somehow “defending” white supremacists when he has said absolutely nothing of the sort. It’s absurdly fallacious reasoning to equate the fact that Trump did condemn the alt-right but also had a few bad things to say about leftist violence to Trump somehow coming to the “defense of white supremacists and neo-Nazis.”

While attorney Alan Dershowitz, one of the few intellectually honest liberals around these days, has also criticized President Trump’s response to Charlottesville, he at least has called for liberals to denounce the violence coming from far-left groups like Antifa and Black Lives Matter. As a reasonably prominent liberal Christian writer with a decent following, has Hunt done anything of the sort?

If not, are we then to assume that Hunt and others who see this as a one-sided issue, including Republicans like Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, condone violence as long as it’s coming from the “correct” ideological spectrum? The ideologues on the Left might be buying it, but ordinary Americans in flyover country, the ones who elected Trump, aren’t.

His Biblical Interpretation Switches Based on Politics

Another example of Hunt’s stunning hypocrisy lies in the writer’s response to Christian televangelist Paula White’s portrayal of President Trump as a leader “raised up by God.” In an article entitled, “If Donald Trump Has Been ‘Raised Up By God,’ Then Jesus Isn’t Our Savior. He’s The Enemy,” Hunt passionately argues that Romans 13, the passage to which Christians often refer when teaching how we should interact with our government, doesn’t make “the airtight case White and Co. would like it to.”

Except when Rowan County Kentucky Clerk Kim Davis was refusing to issue gay marriage licenses in 2015, Hunt took an altogether different view of Romans 13 in an admittedly well-reasoned Huffington Post piece. Because the shoe is on the other foot, don’t you see.

“But if Ms. Davis is convinced she is in the right about same-sex marriage, if she indeed believes sincerely that the Bible is clear and thus refuses to be subject to the governing authorities Paul says are ‘appointed by God,’ then Romans 13 makes it clear she has only one option if she want to avoid judgment,” Hunt wrote at the time. “Quit.”

So, are the governing authorities “appointed by God,” or are they not? Is God in control over the affairs of men, or is he not? I guess it depends on what party the “authorities” belong to, or whether their leader’s particular sins “tip the scales” for you.

In his overt denial of God’s sovereignty in all things, much less President Trump’s election victory, Hunt also manages in the article to equate President Trump with “Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, and Kim Jung Un.” In a January blog post entitled “Following Jesus And Supporting Donald Trump Are Utterly Irreconcilable,” Hunt cites a laundry list of supposed Trump shortcomings to “prove” that one can’t support President Trump and follow Jesus.

“We must choose a master: either Christ or Trump,” Hunt concludes. “Because we cannot follow Jesus while also supporting someone who, in the most literal sense of the word, is anti-Christ.”

False dilemma much, Zack? Are there any Christians out there actually worshipping President Trump? We are fully aware of his shortcomings, but also cognizant that there is a tremendous difference between Trump’s personal sins and even what he has said, versus what he does and is actually doing, which in the long-run will be good for America. God uses imperfect vessels literally every single time he uses a man or woman here on earth. I would paraphrase a few of those “red-letter words” and suggest Hunt cast the first stone, but he already has, many times.

You Really Need to Brush Up on Commandment Eight

Finally, as yet another example of Hunt’s typical liberal duplicity, he posted this tweet last Sunday in response to a non-hurricane Harvey related tweet by President Trump:

Christian Leftist Zack Hunt’s Mindless Religious War Against Donald Trump

Except Trump posted no fewer than 25 separate tweets, some before and some after the one tweet about Sheriff Clarke, including this one the day before:

Except Trump posted no fewer than 25 separate tweets, some before and some after the one tweet about Sheriff Clarke, including this one the day before:

Isn’t there something in the Bible against bearing false witness?

At least Hunt is an unapologetic liberal who is essentially preaching to his own choir. Far worse are the so-called conservatives who have turned their backs on President Trump, choosing to get their feathers ruffled over the president’s words and supposed moral failings, when the things he is actually trying to accomplish could very well bring our country back from the brink, if only they would stop sabotaging him.

But then, maybe they’ve wanted him to fail all along.

Source:  TheFederalist.  We have added section headings, information, and/or comments for clarity.

 

Ohio’s Campus Free Speech Act helps build free minds, free people

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The First Amendment is often referred to as America’s first freedom because of the principles that it enshrines. Namely, that government cannot restrict our rights to freedom of religion, free speech, the press, assembly, and to petition our government.

Ohio’s Campus Free Speech Act helps build free minds, free people

 

As policy makers, our duty is to ensure that these freedoms are respected and protected for all. In my case especially, I must ensure those freedoms are protected for Ohioans.

That is why Ohio State House Representative Andrew Brenner and I are introducing the Campus Free Speech Act. This common-sense legislation is based on a simple premise; that the laws, policies, and conduct of Ohio’s public universities be fully consistent with the First Amendment.

College is a transformative time for Ohio’s young people as they learn and grow into the next generation of leaders and citizens. A free and open exchange of speech and ideas is critical to ensuring that our students have the most meaningful and impactful education experience in a way that prepares them to be active and engaged citizens in our republic.

Several states in recent months and years have adopted policies on a bipartisan basis to maximize First Amendment freedoms on college campuses. This is not about privileging or advancing one viewpoint over another, or about stifling opinions we disagree with or even find abhorrent. This is about ensuring that Ohio’s students have every ability to freely and peacefully debate ideas, pursue truth, and reject error.

In recent years we have seen a clampdown on First Amendment-protected activities on college campuses across that nation, signaling a dangerous closing of the American mind that only contributes to a more difficult national dialogue. A 2016 Gallup poll found that roughly two-thirds of college student support restricting “intentionally offensive” language, and 27 percent of students support restricting the expression of political views “that are upsetting or offensive to certain groups.”

While Ohio has been fortunate to avoid the madness that has taken hold at places like UC Berkeley and the University of Missouri, there have still been instances of speech suppression here.

Within the last five years, both the University of Cincinnati and the Columbus State Community College were sued and had reverse “Free Speech Area” policies that limited free speech rights to small, designated areas on campus. In the University of Cincinnati’s case, the free speech area made up less than 1 percent of the campus’s total area.

In 2014, University of Toledo campus police suppressed a peaceful protest of a Karl Rove event by blocking protesters from entering the event. The university has since adopted a new free expression policy.

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education still finds that all but one of our public universities maintains policies “that could be interpreted to suppress protected speech or policies that, while clearly restricting freedom of speech, restrict only narrow categories of speech.”

Ambiguous policies leave the door open for future suppression, and need to be changed to make it clear that protected speech will be given the full protection of the law.

Thomas Jefferson once wrote:

“Truth is great and will prevail if left to herself … she is the proper and sufficient antagonist to error, and has nothing to fear from the conflict unless by human interposition disarmed of her natural weapons, free argument and debate; errors ceasing to be dangerous when it is permitted to freely contradict them.”

The role of a university is to pursue truth, and as such, universities should value free inquiry above all else. Students only learn when challenged with new ideas, forcing them to apply reason and reconsider beliefs they have previously held out of habit. Erroneous and bigoted ideas can only be defeated by standing them up to the test of reason and debate.

While it is unfortunate that the importance of free speech and free inquiry are being questioned across the nation, this bill presents an opportunity protect it in Ohio. We have a duty to ensure that Ohio’s public universities maintain their truth-seeking purpose, through which they shower countless benefits on students and a citizens alike, making good on the taxpayers’ investment in their institutions.

Source:  TheHill.  We have added section headings, information, and/or comments for clarity.

This Dad Lost Everything To Hurricane Harvey. His Response? ‘We Thank God’

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Jeremiah’s son can look upon his father and see gratitude, humility, and strength during Hurricane Harvey; not the grievance and victimhood that is celebrated in our political life today.

This Dad Lost Everything To Hurricane Harvey. His Response? ‘We Thank God’

“Bad things do happen; how I respond to them defines my character and the quality of my life. I can choose to sit in perpetual sadness, immobilized by the gravity of my loss, or I can choose to rise from the pain and treasure the most precious gift I have—life itself.” Walter Anderson, 1885-1962

Twenty trillion gallons of water have fallen on Texas since Thursday afternoon. Eighteen people have been killed, and some 30,000 displaced; and there’s more rain still to come. As levees are breached, and lives are swept away, some have taken to social media to heckle and harass the victims of Hurricane Harvey.

This Dad Lost Everything To Hurricane Harvey. His Response? ‘We Thank God’

This Dad Lost Everything To Hurricane Harvey. His Response? ‘We Thank God’

This Dad Lost Everything To Hurricane Harvey. His Response? ‘We Thank God’

This Dad Lost Everything To Hurricane Harvey. His Response? ‘We Thank God’

This despicable behavior puts on full display the cold and empty chambers of the heart of identity politics. With this in mind, I’d like to you to meet a man named Jeremiah from Hurricane Harvey:  https://t.co/c8WRl5B43P

n the video Jeremiah is walking hand in hand with his six-year-old son. They’ve just been rescued from the storm. A reporter approaches, asking what happened. Jeremiah talks about the rain, and of being rescued. He then looks straight into the camera and says, “We thank God. We thank God. This all we got. We lost the car, all the clothes, school clothes, everything’s gone. Everything’s gone.”

The reporter asks where they’ll go next.

“We don’t know,” Jeremiah says.

“But you’re thankful?” the reporter asks, clearly taken aback by Jeremiah’s gracious thanksgiving to God in the wake of losing everything.

“Yeah, we’re thankful.”

Comic book writer J. Michael Straczynski once said, “For a lot of people, Superman is and has always been America’s hero. He stands for what we believe is the best within us: limitless strength tempered by compassion, that can bear adversity and emerge stronger on the other side. He stands for what we all feel we would like to be able to stand for, when standing is hardest.”

This is Jeremiah. He’s not pulling someone from a sinking car. He’s not the Cajun Navy. He’s not a first responder working 20 straight hours saving lives. He can’t be. He has a son to take care of, and in that brief exchange Jeremiah gave us an honest glimpse of the private conduct of a father. His son can look upon his father and see gratitude, humility, and strength; not the grievance and victimhood that is celebrated in our political life today. And I believe he will better off for it.

As I write this, I’m sitting on a porch in Tennessee with a couple of dogs at my feet. The sky is blue and the breeze is warm. My children are at school. My wife and I are sending flirtatious text messages to each other. It’s a good day for us, and I can’t recall the last time I felt truly thankful.

Later tonight we’re going to box up the supplies that we bought for the victims of Hurricane Harvey. Toothbrushes, protein bars, water, ramen. The kids picked out some candy bags for kids like Jeremiah’s son. It’s not much, but it’s everything we could do. Once the box arrives in Texas, we have no idea who will open it or receive the supplies inside. Perhaps those protein bars will be handed to a Bernie Sanders supporter. Maybe a member of Antifa will get one of the toothbrushes.

Jeremiah’s words are a welcome challenge: What will we show the world? When we reach the end of our rope, will we tie a knot and hang on, as Abraham Lincoln once advised? When you see Jeremiah, do you see a Trump supporter getting his just deserts? Is Jeremiah deserving of misfortune for his faith in God? Does his opinion on tax reform warrant the loss of his home and everything in it?

As my wife and I teach our children to navigate through disaster, we’ll think of Jeremiah making his way down the road, holding the hand of his young son, and we’ll thank God, too. We’ll thank God for men like Jeremiah.

Source:  TheFederalist.  We have added section headings, information, and/or comments for clarity.

Sarah Palin Should Appeal The Dismissal Of Her NYT Defamation Lawsuit

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The judge’s narrow reading of the precedents shouldn’t end Sarah Palin’s quest for vindication against the latest vicious, untrue smear, defamation in particular, by a media establishment that has long detested her.

Sarah Palin Should Appeal The Dismissal Of Her NYT Defamation Lawsuit

On Tuesday, federal district court judge Jed S. Rakoff dismissed Sarah Palin’s defamation suit against The New York Times, holding that her complaint failed to allege the actual malice she was required to show in order to proceed with the suit.

His narrow reading of the precedents ends—barring a successful appeal—Palin’s quest for vindication against the latest vicious, untrue smear by a media establishment that has long detested her. It also lends legitimacy to the falling standards in the media wrought by the rise of the Internet and the decline of thorough, old-fashioned journalism.

Palin’s case arose in the aftermath of the congressional baseball shooting by an unhinged leftist on June 14. The shooter, who specifically targeted Republicans, left several people injured before being killed. In an editorial published later that same day, the Times referred back to the 2011 shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords by Jared Lee Loughner, and attempted to blame the deaths that day on Palin, while downplaying the connection between the 2017 shooter and his publicly professed radical politics.

The editorial stated that in the 2011 incident “the link to political violence was clear. Before the shooting, Sarah Palin’s political action committee circulated a map of targeted electoral districts that put Ms. Giffords and 19 other Democrats under stylized cross hairs.” After an outcry at the mischaracterization, the defamatory statements were corrected, but not until the next day. Palin filed suit against the Times and Rakoff, a 1996 Clinton appointee to the district court for Southern District of New York, was assigned to the case.

Balancing Free Speech and Defamation

Rakoff’s decision in the Palin case begins by professing respect for America’s robust tradition of free speech under the First Amendment that allows wide latitude in publishing political opinions. As he writes in his opinion, “Nowhere is political journalism so free, so robust, or perhaps so rowdy as in the United States.” This freedom separates us from the other nations—even ostensibly free nations—where censorship occurs every day.

But defamation as a cause of action must always co-exist with free speech and, while the government may not fine or jail people for what they say, when a newspaper prints falsehoods that damage a person’s reputation, that person must be allowed to sue for damages, just as she would for any other injury. In deciding her claim before it gets to a jury, Rakoff does Palin, and all people who find themselves on the wrong side of an editorial board, a disservice.

The law of defamation is most profoundly influenced by the rules set forth in New York Times v. Sullivan, a 1964 Supreme Court case that drastically reduced the scope of defamation suits, especially for public figures like Palin. For Palin to prevail in a libel suit under Sullivan, she must prove that (1) there was a written defamatory statement about her, (2) that the statement was published, (3) that the publishers did so with “actual malice,” (4) that the statement was false, (5) and that the publication caused damage to her reputation.  Clearly defamation.

The Times’ attorneys argued that Palin’s claim could not fulfill all of these elements even if everything she alleged were true. Rakoff agreed that four of the five elements could possibly be proven at trial. On the third element, however, he held that Palin could not possibly prove that the Times and the primary author of its unsigned editorial, James Bennet, acted with actual malice. As a result, he dismissed the case.

What Is ‘Actual Malice’?

“Actual malice” is a tough requirement to meet, and purposely so. The court in Sullivan wanted to ensure that libel suits did not stifle free speech, especially where the subject of the speech is a public figure of the type about which newspapers should be expected to publish opinions. They held that the statement in question must have been published “with knowledge that it was false or with reckless disregard of whether it was false or not.”

Palin alleged that Bennet, the brother of Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado, had a motive to defame her, both out of political animus and of a desire to please the Times’ subscribers. Whether or not political disagreement alone is sufficient to prove animus—and Rakoff rightly says that it is not—it is useless to deny that the Times opposes Palin and other social conservatives. Palin needed to prove that such opposition led Bennet and others either to ignore what they knew (that the connection to Loughner was false) or that they recklessly made no effort to even verify their wrong assumptions.

Rakoff held an evidentiary hearing to look into what Bennet knew about the five-year-old falsehood. Even holding such a hearing arguably shows that the facts of the matter are in doubt and should be heard by a jury—which rules on the facts—rather than a judge, who rules on the law. By holding that hearing, questioning Bennet, and weighing the evidence, Rakoff stepped into the role properly granted to jurors.

While there were reasons for the hearing, such as finding out who, specifically, was responsible for writing the unsigned editorial, that should have been the limit of the court’s findings. Instead, the judge discovered Bennet’s role in the process, then took the additional step of absolving him of responsibility.

Different Times, Different Facts

The court’s application of the precedent in Sullivan is flawed in two ways. In the 1964 case, the Times published assertions about the actions of Alabama law enforcement personnel that were provably false, exaggerating the extent to which they had acted against civil rights protestors. The Alabamians believed the Times should have known that the statements were false, yet published them anyway. The Supreme Court held that showing the newspaper to have previously published the true version of events “supports, at most, a finding of negligence in failing to discover the misstatements, and is constitutionally insufficient to show the recklessness that is required for a finding of actual malice.”

That may have been true in 1964, but today, when every word published by the New York Times is almost instantly searchable in the newspaper’s online archives, calling it negligence falls short of the mark. With the most minimal of efforts, Bennet and his staff could have accessed their own coverage of the 2011 shooting and seen that the connection to Palin’s PAC, alleged in the immediate aftermath of that day’s events, was very quickly debunked, and that no evidence has ever emerged that Loughner had even seen the item that supposedly inspired him. It would have taken mere minutes of fact-checking to sort out their error (if indeed it was an error,) but they neglected even that level of diligence. Is it unreasonable to believe that a jury might find that level of neglect to have been a reckless disregard for the truth?

The other difference between the Sullivan case and Palin’s is in the nature of the publication. Rakoff quotes from Sullivan in his ruling (at page 22), saying, “The mere presence of stories in the files does not, of course, establish that the Times ‘knew’ the [publication at issue] was false.” The bracketed section draws the eye, but is not uncommon in legal writing, often used to exclude extraneous information not essential to the point of the citation. But compare it to the original sentence from Sullivan, and a problem emerges:
The mere presence of the stories in the files does not, of course, establish that the Times ‘knew’ the advertisement was false, since the state of mind required for actual malice would have to be brought home to the persons in the Times’ organization having responsibility for the publication of the advertisement. (emphasis added)

There lies an important distinction between Sullivan and this case: the defamatory publication in Sullivan was an advertisement, not an article or editorial written by the Times staff. The court in Sullivan held that it was not malicious for the advertising department to accept an ad without cross-checking it against all of the newspaper’s previously published articles. That’s a reasonable point: the advertising department’s job is to sell ads, not to fact-check stories, a labor-intensive process in those days.

Compare that to Palin’s case. The editorial Bennet wrote was not a third-party ad, it was a product of the Times’ own staff. Not only is research and fact-checking easier in 2017, but the editorial was the product of the part of the newspaper’s staff that should be used to getting things right.

That the ad salesmen might not know about the exact details of the civil rights movement in Alabama is plausible; that the editorial board was ignorant of the basic facts of a recent high-profile news story beggars belief. Add to that the coincidence that the “mistake” just happened to defame a political figure reviled by the mainstream media establishment and it might not immediately prove malice, but it is certainly enough to get the case to trial and let a jury decide.  Battling defamation is worth the fight.

New Media Doesn’t Care About Facts

Rakoff describes the case this way: “What we have here is an editorial, written and rewritten rapidly in order to voice an opinion on an immediate event of importance, in which are included a few factual inaccuracies somewhat pertaining to Mrs. Palin that are very rapidly corrected.” That statement describes journalism in twenty-first-century America and is a serious indictment of the profession. The state of affairs in journalism these days is to publish first and fact-check later, and this decision helps legitimize the slapdash approach to writing that has spread from bloggers to once-venerable newspapers.

When newspapers, including the Times, are laying off editors left and right, the result will necessarily be a weaker work product. Newspapers have always competed with each other to publish a news story first, and in breaking news errors will always be made. What has changed is that fewer editors and fact-checkers now intermediate between a reporter’s pen and the published product. Firing those people no doubt saves money, but only at the cost of accuracy and legitimacy.

In an editorial, this is doubly absurd. The news might “need” to be published as it happens, but opinions can and should wait until facts are known and sober judgment is applied. When editorial writers choose speed over accuracy, they leave readers ill-served. They also risk misstating facts in a way that has real-life consequences.

Inaccuracy in the June 14 editorial was a choice, born of laziness and closed-mindedness, and one that the slightest effort would have easily avoided. Palin would do the news industry a favor by appealing this decision and reminding them they are responsible for what they publish and required to make an effort, at least, to tell the people the truth.  Defamation should not be allowed without punishment.

Source:  TheFederalist.  We have added section headings, information, and/or comments for clarity.

A Roadmap for Defending Free Speech: After Backlash, SMU Restores 9/11 Memorial

By | Free Speech | No Comments

If you thought Texas was immune to the campus madness spreading near-daily across America, consider the case of Southern Methodist University (SMU). This summer, the Dallas university seemed ready to leap aboard the bandwagon of censorship and intolerance. That it ultimately retreated from this illiberal undertaking should give confidence to its friends and alums and, more importantly, to friends of free speech everywhere.

A Roadmap for Defending Free Speech: After Backlash, SMU Restores 9/11 Memorial

 

As reported on its website, in July, the SMU chapter of the conservative student group, Young Americans for Freedom (YAF), filed a request for the use of “Dallas Hall Lawn, a central location on campus” where, for the past two years, YAF has hosted the “9/11: Never Forget Project.” The Project display consists of 2,977 American flags, which “represent each of the 2,977 Americans murdered by Al Qaeda terrorists in September 2001.” There appeared to be no reason why this, its third request, would not be approved again.

However, on July 24, YAF received an email from SMU’s administration announcing that the school had altered its policy. “The email informed YAF that displays are now forbidden on Dallas Hall Lawn, and would instead be relegated to MoMac Park,” which YAF regards as “a location unquestionably less visible and further removed from students’ everyday activities. Dallas Hall Lawn is a busy thriving hub of activity,” which “functions as the central forum of SMU’s campus. MoMac Park does not.”

Why the change in policy? This is where things appeared to go from bad to worse—before they got much better—for the administration.

To provide some background, SMU—according to the nonpartisan free-speech watchdog, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE)—already is suspect when it comes to protecting free speech. FIRE grades SMU with a “speech code rating Yellow,” which indicates that the school has “at least one ambiguous policy that too easily encourages administrative abuse and arbitrary application.” To be fair, there is a worse grade that FIRE provides—a “Red Light,” which a number of Texas universities currently receive, among them, two publics, UT-Austin and the University of Houston, and one private, Rice University. A “Red Light” rating means, quoting FIRE’s website, that the school “has at least one policy that both clearly and substantially restricts freedom of speech.”

This is not the first time that SMU has tussled with YAF; the latter’s website avers that the school had objected to a prior version of the Memorial, citing scheduling and logistical obstacles. The new policy, announced at the end of July, stated, “While the University respects the rights of students to free speech, the University respects the right of members of the community to avoid messages that are triggering, harmful, or harassing” (emphasis mine).

For the sake of not offending anyone, the Memorial would be moved from its prior place of prominence.

But then, something peculiar seems to have happened. Perhaps someone in the administration realized that the new campus obsession with “triggering speech” does not play well, nor should it, in a country founded on the principle that freedom of speech includes “offensive” speech, as a number of Court decisions have affirmed. Although SMU, as a private school, is not legally bound to uphold the First Amendment—as UT-Austin, the University of Houston, and all public universities are—SMU’s Mission Statement “affirms its historical commitment to academic freedom and open inquiry.”

For some reason, on August 1, SMU announced an additional revision to its just-revised policy on public displays. The Dallas Morning News accordingly updated its coverage with the following explanatory note: “Revised to include that SMU has updated its campus expression policy by removing language about ‘harmful or triggering messages.’ An earlier version of this article incorrectly said the university had ruled the 9/11 memorial must move because it could be triggering to students. The university’s policy requires all displays to move to the new site.”

By insisting that it “incorrectly” asserted that the university would move the 9/11 memorial “because it could be triggering to students,” the Morning News update appears to be practicing interpretive charity, which is always a noble stance; but in this instance is it more charitable than accurate? After all, SMU’s “revision-of-the-revision” expressly states its purpose is “to remove” its “poor wording regarding triggering or harmful messages.”

Whatever the case, if the school thought that its speedy deletion of the term, “triggering”—while still holding to its decision to relegate the Memorial to a less-trafficked location—would end the controversy, it was mistaken. On August 2, the Lone Star State’s Republican governor, Greg Abbott, sent the school a public letter asking President R. Gerald Turner to permit his students to place the Memorial flags in their “traditional place of honor” on the “Dallas Hall lawn,” adding, “This display is not political. It is not partisan. It is not controversial. This is about our nation united.”

Alas, we are far from a nation united these days—from Charlottesville, to Berkeley, to Yale, to Middlebury, to Evergreen State College, and beyond—our campuses and country are roiling with ideological conflict. The cause? Much of it owes to the rise in “hypersensitivity,” the public venting of which has sometimes been met by guilt-induced servility on the part of administrators, as I argue here and here.

As a former professor and senior university administrator, it is not difficult to imagine the genuine angst with which SMU’s leadership struggled to satisfy both sides of a battle not of the school’s making. From this unplanned war there would be no easy exit—someone would be offended by the school’s choice, whichever way it went: Some could be expected to decry the perceived insensitivity of the Memorial; others, to rail at what appeared to them as not only an infringement on free speech, but a slighting of the slaughtered of 9/11.

I sympathize with SMU’s plight. At the same time, it is unclear that its first attempted solution—to move all displays to MoMac Park—would have bought the peace it sought at the price of its “historical commitment to academic freedom and open inquiry.” In time, thoughtful members of the SMU community might come to wonder just what exactly the school stands for anymore, and why.

But then came the good news. Unlike a number of state officeholders nationwide, who have attempted, and largely failed, to convince their states’ campuses to protect free speech, Abbott’s entreaty hit pay dirt. A few days after the governor sent his admonition, SMU announced that it had reversed its prior decision, and would now restore the 9/11 Memorial and “all displays to the traditional location on the lawn.”

In this effort, the governor was aided by a free-speech-friendly coalition that, with YAF, included “leaders from the College Democrats, College Republicans, Feminist Equality Movement, Mustangs for Life and Turning Point USA.” Their joint letter to President Turner opined: “People absolutely have to have a right to their own opinions, but this does not come with a right to be shielded from opposing ideas, especially in an environment dedicated to the learning, sharing and developing of new ideas.”

One can approach this happy resolution in one of two ways. On the one hand, some might lament that students had to band together to teach their university elders that the intellectual excellence at which higher education aims depends ineluctably on the protection of free speech and debate.

One the other hand, others, this writer included, may eschew lamentations and instead take SMU at its word. After announcing its reversal, President Turner offered this statement: “I thank the students from across campus who came together in the spirit of mutual respect and civil discourse to achieve this outcome. Throughout these discussions, students have expressed their commitment to freedom of expression — a value the university shares.”

A no-less magnanimous postmortem on the saga was offered by Grant Wolf, Chairman of SMU’s YAF: “We have not fought against our university. We have fought for America. And America has won.”

I agree with and admire both Turner’s and Wolf’s assessments. In the end, SMU resisted PC/SJW’s gravitational pull, which has caused too many other schools to spin way from their core mission. At such schools, the “Social Justice” enterprise has already inclined their campuses in the totalitarian direction depicted in George Orwell’s 1984“Every record has been destroyed or falsified, every book rewritten, every picture has been repainted, every statue and street building has been renamed, every date has been altered. And the process is continuing day by day and minute by minute. History has stopped. Nothing exists except an endless present in which the Party is always right.

Unlike so many campus meltdowns of the past few years, in this case, what Lincoln called “the better angels of our nature” prevailed. Let us hope that the triumph of freedom at SMU will stand as a model for other schools confronting similar stumbling blocks to the freedom to learn.

Source:  Forbes.  We have added section headings, information, and/or comments for clarity.

 

A Handful of Tech Companies Decide Who Has Free Speech Online. That’s Not Good.

By | 1st Amendment, First Amendment, Free Speech, Free Speech Is Not Free, Freedom, Freedom of Expression, Freedom of Speech | No Comments

Conservatives and others outside the Silicon Valley consensus are right to be paranoid.  On August 18, statistics professor and researcher Salil Mehta discovered his Google account had been shut down. Not only did he lose access to his email, but his popular blog Statistical Ideas was inaccessible — right after The New York Times had linked to it, directing a stream of readers his way. Google’s automated message told Mehta that he had violated the Terms of Service, but didn’t specify how and offered little recourse.  Insert:  The tech giants do not have to provide any reasons for shutting you down whether related to free speech or not.

A Handful of Tech Companies Decide Who Has Free Speech Online. That's Not Good.

Too Easy?

The incident came soon after Google fired software engineer James Damore for his outspoken views on diversity in the tech industry. In the tense atmosphere, Mehta assumed that writing he had done about electoral politics was the cause. “Apparently if you show [p]robability work like Hillary having lower election odds, then this is new definition of hate speech,” he tweeted in frustration. Mehta’s plight went semi-viral after Ricardo Blanco, a Tesla communications manager and himself a former Google executive, signal-boosted Mehta’s complaint, as did bombastic economics author Nicholas Nassim Taleb.

Like Damore, who saw himself as merely presenting scientific data showing differences between populations, Mehta did not think of himself as an ideological bomb-thrower. He told ZeroHedge, “I am not promoting any specific viewpoint. I teach probability math and that’s it.”

Mehta was lucky. The public outcry and press attention prompted Google to manually review his case. A Google spokesperson told Inc. that Mehta mistakenly marked some of his own email as spam, which confused the algorithm and triggered the shutdown. By August 21, the account had been fully restored.

It could have turned out differently. Without his impressive credentials and far-reaching network, Mehta never would have found out why his Google account was shut down. He wouldn’t have been able to access his correspondence or restore his blog, which he says has been read by the likes of Elon Musk and Warren Buffett.

After regaining access to his blog, Mehta published an out-of-character post. Instead of talking about math, Mehta discussed the societal danger posed by artificial intelligence. He pointed out that algorithms constructed by ideologically homogenous groups will reflect that homogeneity — an argument that is common among technology critics and activists of all political persuasions.

“Risk-taking off the backs of billions of citizens, an increasingly unstable segment of whom are fuming at the moment,” Mehta called the practice.

Mehta’s experience with Google illustrates just how little some of us trust our digital gatekeepers. Anyone who is right of center — or otherwise holds views that don’t jibe with the dominant Silicon Valley paradigm — can’t help but feel antsy in 2017. This anxiety exploded into public view last year after Facebook was rumored to be suppressing conservative articles in its “Trending Topics” module. People are worried about being no-platformed; about losing their ability to advocate for themselves and their communities.

“Despite their participatory rhetoric,” media critic John Herrmann wrote in The New York Times, “social platforms are closer to authoritarian spaces than democratic ones.” Users have no ability to vote in new CEOs, and the shareholders who do are more concerned with earnings and dividends than free speech rights. Your whole life could be tied up in an account, and then a fluke mistake could get you banned. There would be nearly nothing you could do about it. Unless you’re prominent enough for the media to care, you’ll be hard-pressed to get human eyes on your case.

Tech companies that offer free consumer products get away with promising very little to their users. Due process is not part of the deal. Platforms like Google and Facebook go through the rigmarole of establishing official policies, but they can break them arbitrarily whenever they want. The backend infrastructure of the internet, made up of hosting companies and DNS registrars, is also governed by what boils down to whim.

Sometimes the affectation is broken. Cloudflare’s CEO Matthew Prince caused a stir when he reversed the company’s policy of content neutrality in order to ax a neo-Nazi site. In a sorry-not-sorry email to Cloudflare staff, Prince wrote, “Literally, I woke up in a bad mood and decided someone shouldn’t be allowed on the internet.”

To his credit, Prince recognized his exercise of power as problematic and attempted to use it as a teachable moment. “Firing a Nazi customer gets you glowing notes from around the world, thanking you for standing up to hate,” he subsequently noted in a Wall Street Journal op-ed. “But a week later, I continue to worry about this power and the potential precedent being set. The reality of today’s internet is that if you are publishing anything even remotely controversial, your site will get cyber-attacked. Without a massive global network similar to Cloudflare’s, it is nearly impossible to withstand the barrage.”

Prince added, “The upshot is that a few private companies have effectively become the gatekeepers to the public square — the blogs and social media that serve as today’s soapboxes and pamphlets. If a handful of tech executives decide to block you from their services, your content effectively can’t be on the internet.”

Conservative writer David French critiqued Prince’s decision in National Review, and came to the same conclusion:

“This was an ominous development for free speech — and not because there is anything at all valuable about The Daily Stormer’s message. It’s an evil site. Its message is vile. Instead, The Daily Stormer’s demise is a reminder that a few major corporations now have far more power than the government to regulate and restrict free speech, and they’re hardly neutral or unbiased actors. They have a point of view, and they’re under immense pressure to use that point of view to influence public debate.”

Everyone is on edge. Even rote decisions made by algorithms — like the one that booted Salil Mehta from his Google account — are easy to interpret as ideology-driven malice. In most cases, users are disenfranchised to the extent that they’ll never find out either way.  Talk about free speech rights being stompled by Big Tech.

Source:  Inc.  We have added section headings, information, and/or comments for clarity.

 

After melees, Berkeley mayor asks Cal to cancel right-wing Free Speech Week

By | 1st Amendment, First Amendment, Freedom of Speech | No Comments

In the aftermath of a right-wing rally Sunday that ended with anarchists chasing attendees from a downtown park, Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin urged UC Berkeley on Monday to cancel conservatives’ plans for a Free Speech Week next month to avoid making the city the center of more violent unrest.

After melees, Berkeley mayor asks Cal to cancel right-wing Free Speech Week

 

“I don’t want Berkeley being used as a punching bag,” said Arreguin, whose city has been the site of several showdowns this year between, on the one hand, the left and its fringe anarchist wing, and on the other, supporters of President Trump who at times have included white nationalists.

“I am concerned about these groups using large protests to create mayhem,” Arreguin said. “It’s something we have seen in Oakland and in Berkeley.”

The mayor wants UC Berkeley to halt plans by a conservative campus group, the Berkeley Patriot, to host right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos during its scheduled Free Speech Week from Sept. 24-27. Berkeley’s right-vs.-left cage matches began with an appearance that Yiannopoulos was to have made in February at a campus hall, an event that was aborted when black-clad anarchists like those who broke up Sunday’s downtown rally stormed into Sproul Plaza, smashed windows and set bonfires.

Trump himself denounced UC Berkeley in a tweet the next day, and his supporters have since made a point of bringing their fight to the famously liberal college town.

There have been reports that the Berkeley Patriot is also trying to lure ousted White House chief strategist Steve Bannon and right-wing commentator Ann Coulter to appear on campus during its Free Speech Week. Bryce Kasamoto, a spokesman for the group, said Monday, “We are still working out the logistics of this event with the university and law enforcement. Once we have worked out final specifics, we will be able to confirm speakers for Free Speech Week.”

Arreguin is wary of the whole idea.

“I’m very concerned about Milo Yiannopoulos and Ann Coulter and some of these other right-wing speakers coming to the Berkeley campus, because it’s just a target for black bloc to come out and commit mayhem on the Berkeley campus and have that potentially spill out on the street,” Arreguin said, referring to militants who have also been called anti-fascists or antifa.

The anti-Yiannopoulos protesters inflicted $100,000 worth of damage to the school’s student union in February before taking to the streets of Berkeley, where several businesses’ windows were smashed. Arreguin said inviting the former Breitbart News editor and other right-wing speakers was setting up a possible repeat of that destruction.

“I obviously believe in freedom of speech, but there is a line between freedom of speech and then posing a risk to public safety,” the mayor said. “That is where we have to really be very careful — that while protecting people’s free-speech rights, we are not putting our citizens in a potentially dangerous situation and costing the city hundreds of thousands of dollars fixing the windows of businesses.”

UC Berkeley spokesman Dan Mogulof said the university is working with the Berkeley Patriot to come up with a time and location for Yiannopoulos’ appearance. He emphasized that UC Berkeley wasn’t the one extending the invitation, but that “we have neither the legal right nor ability to interfere with or cancel (students groups’) invitations based on the perspectives and beliefs of the speakers.”

“Where we do have discretion is around everything that has to do with the safety of our communities, and the well-being of those who may feel threatened or harmed by what some of these speakers may espouse,” Mogulof said. “We can assure you that those priorities, along with our commitment to free speech, remain at the center of our planning and priorities.”

Also on tap for next month is a campus appearance by Ben Shapiro, another former Breitbart News editor, who is scheduled to speak Sept. 14 at the 1,900-capacity Zellerbach Hall. His appearance is sponsored by Berkeley College Republicans.

Shapiro told The Chronicle last week that he would welcome anyone who wanted to protest his appearance, but that “I’m actively telling people not to show up to defend my free speech. That’s the police’s job.”

UC Berkeley is charging the organizers of Shapiro’s appearance $15,000 for the campus’ security costs.

Source:  SFchronicle.  We have added section headings, information, and/or comments for clarity.

No, Jesse Jackson, The Electoral College Isn’t Racist

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Rev. Jesse Jackson has made headlines saying that as we get rid of Confederate statues we should also get rid of the Electoral College.

No, Jesse Jackson, The Electoral College Isn’t RacistRecently, Rev. Jesse Jackson made headlines saying that as we get rid of Confederate statues we should also get rid of the Electoral College. He complains that the historic institution, by which America chooses its presidents, has twice stolen the White House from Democrats, but the overall implication of his claims is that the Electoral College is racist.

He’s wrong on two fronts.

First, the college didn’t steal the elections from Al Gore in 2000 or Hillary Clinton in 2016. Neither Gore nor Clinton received more than 50 percent of the popular vote, and we don’t know how the more than four million Gary Johnson voters or three-quarter million Evan McMullin voters would have voted in a runoff between Trump and Clinton. More importantly, absent the Electoral College candidates would have campaigned differently. Clinton lost because she neglected too many non-coastal states.

The second charge, the charge of racism, is more subtle. The claim that the college is racist can be made two ways. First, that the college was designed as racist by giving more clout to slave states than they would have had under a popular vote model. Second, that boosting the influence of low-population states today effectively boosts the whiter states in the nation.

The former claim is plausible because Southern states did effectively have more representation through the college than they might have had under a popular vote of all free persons. But the oft-maligned Three-Fifths Clause was designed to limit the influence of slave states in congressional apportionment. Since congressional apportionment determines the number of a state’s electors—one for each representative and senator in Congress—limiting Southern representation in Congress limited their representation in the Electoral College.

A popular vote for president was not a viable alternative to the Electoral College considered at the Constitutional Convention. Convention delegates feared that popular executives could too easily turn into popular autocrats, as the annals of history repeatedly show. Additionally, the delegates weren’t convinced the average voter would know enough about the requirements for office or the qualifications of candidates to be able to make an informed decision. The Electoral Compromise was a compromise that allowed people to choose representatives—electors—to elect the president on their behalf.

The proponents of the college weren’t motivated by racism. Oliver Ellsworth, the “Father of the Electoral College,” twice asked the Convention to consider banning slavery in the Constitution. Northern states supported the institution, while the only votes against it came from Southern states.

Since the abolition of slavery under the Fourteenth Amendment (passed due to the efforts of Abraham Lincoln, who won in 1860 with less than 40 percent of the popular vote), the institution of slavery cannot pervert the Electoral College system.

The idea that the college is racist today because it boosts the influence of predominantly white, rural states is also flawed. The college supports low-population states regardless of their racial makeup. While Wyoming, Montana, the Dakotas, and Vermont are disproportionately white, the college also boosts Delaware, Washington DC, Alaska, Hawaii, and New Mexico, some of the most diverse regions of the country. Without the Electoral College, all of these states would have their influence subsumed under large population centers like New York and Los Angeles. No state would have signed on to a system that stripped them of any chance of influence, and no state should want that now.

The Electoral College facilitates the joining of the states in union. The Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments and the Voting Rights Act made it better still. If we also want it to check demagogues we should consider restoring the independence of electors to serve as real intermediaries between the popular will and the presidency.

Source:  TheFederalist.  We have added section headings, information, and/or comments for clarity.