Reporting from ACTION! – a Conference for Civil Libertarians.
Friday 30 July 2010.
Reception, welcome addresses from Chris Link and Susan Becker: grapes, gripes, recognition, reunion, conversation, and canopies.
Saturday 31 July 2010.
Opening Plenary by Ethan Nadelmann: Drug policy reform.
“Absent harm to others, it is no one else’s concern what I put in my body.”
He is a very dynamic, wake us up in the AM speaker, who is dedicated to his cause: End the Failed War on Drugs.
Session: “Let’s talk about Choice ” – Louise Melling.
A woman has a right to have a child on her own terms: if women have control over having children, they may participate more fully in all other aspects of life.
She is attractive, charming, energetic, and informative – good session, which motivated me to stay on message for Choice.
Session: Mecca Meets Main Street: The changing face of religious liberty -Richard Saphire, Zeinab, and Jennifer Nimer.
Discussion of the religion clauses of the first amendment: Establishment, and Free expression, in the context of the growing number of Islamics in the USA, and how we can accommodate their particular needs.
Credible, well organized and informative speakers.
N.B.: The absence of Separation of Church and State – which has been so insipid in the past three Republican administrations – has impacted us in: AIDS treatment; GLBT rights; Reproductive Choice; stem cell, and all scientific, research; gender parity; respect for all belief (or not) systems; international standing; and perhaps was complicit in the invasion and occupation of Iraq.
Amy Goodman – Luncheon Keynote Speaker. Update on WikiLeaks – a secure platform for whistle blowers – reporting the truth on violence in Iraq, and on the suppression of reporting of the demonstrations at the 2008 GOP Convention.
Covering Power rather than Covering For Power.
Another dynamic and motivating speaker.
Session: Technology and Privacy – Craig Jaquith, Katherine Hunt Federle, and Jackie Ford.
Current issues on modern technology and old legal issues. Issues of who owns what, and privacy expectations: well organized, well delivered, entertaining, and informative.
Sessions: Citizens United – Scott Greenwood, Daniel P. Tokaji, and Terri Enns.
A high point of the conference, featuring two gifted young lawyers, covering one of the key decisions of the current Supreme Court.
Scott Greenwood – who has consistently been named among the best lawyers in America for 15 years – argued in favor of the decision, and Daniel Tokaji – an associate professor of Law at OSU – is a noted civil rights and election lawyer who argued against the decision.
The Case was the Federal Elections Commission vs. Citizens United, on a ‘documentary’ which was a ‘hit job’ on Hillary Clinton. Scott said it was a victory for Free Speech, and did not authorize donations for corporations. He observed that corporations wield influence through lobbying and bundled donations, and that in the twenty first century, radio, TV, and print are not the only media. (The Obama campaign depended on the Internet.) Post Citizens, there are many different proposals.
Stated that this was not a victory for Free Speech, but was an out lier. Can rich and poor compete as equals? Is money speech? Is equality a Constitutional value? He observed that the wealth gap has created a donor class, and that politics – like business – does not function well when unregulated.
A knowledgeable, well informed member of the audience asked about the issue of ‘Corporate Person hood’. Both men replied enthusiastically. Daniel stating that speech rights are the larger issue, and Scott that this is an 800 lb gorilla in the room. An issue is: did this expand the power of non-people?
There is not a fixed amount of free speech; money for candidates is to effect policy, not merely the outcome of the election; and the question of corporate honesty is at hand.
N.B.: If only public money could be used for elections, this would not be an issue.
A worthwhile, valuable, expansive experience.
Charles Pervo 1 August 2010 CE.