Report: South Carolina ranked 40th for its political free speech protections | Caroline from the south
(The Center Square) – A recent report on how states restrict free speech ranked South Carolina 40th for its protections.
The index from the Institute for Free Speech ranked states in 10 categories on everything from political committee laws and defining campaign spending to Super PAC recognition and misrepresentation laws.
“In the vast majority of states, very few people understand the harmful effects of these laws and rules on speech,” the report said. “To the extent that they are known at all, citizens and lawmakers often view these laws as nothing more than campaign finance regulations — rules meant to protect politics from corruption, not restrict the First Amendment. In every state, only a handful of experts and lawyers know the truth – that the primary effect, and often the primary purpose, of these laws is to restrict free speech.”
In explaining its ranking, the report listed South Carolina as one of eight states – including Alaska, California, Delaware, Idaho, Massachusetts, Texas and Washington – that “allow enforcement private campaign laws – the enforcement of the law directly by one’s political opponents.”
South Carolina received its worst scores with a 0% ranking for coordinating regulations, regulation of independent spending by apolitical committees, and its definition of campaign spending.
“South Carolina requires registration and reporting of PACs,” the report said. “When states require nonprofit groups to register and be regulated as PACs, they receive the lowest score in this category. IFS is aware that South Carolina law that would require disclosure of donors by non-PACs making independent spending has been declared unconstitutional in two federal cases.
“The law, however, has not been changed to reflect these court rulings.”
It received high marks of 100% approval for its lack of regulation of speech on the issue near an election and 80% for its lack of restrictions on grassroots advocacy and lobbying.
“Donor disclosure in South Carolina exists for lobbying organizations that require payments to maintain membership in that organization,” the report said. “Due to the broad nature of the IFS.ORG 185 methodology of this definition, the index classifies South Carolina as requiring donor disclosure.”