The Democratic Party’s election overhaul bill, S. 1, includes numerous provisions of dubious constitutionality, but one in particular stands out. Its regulations on websites and media outlets have already been struck down by a federal court.
Just 16 months ago, in Washington Post v. McManus, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals held unconstitutional a Maryland scheme nearly identical to provisions of S. 1. The state had tried to ban Russian memes by requiring internet platforms to build databases containing vast amounts of information about every political ad and ad buyer on their websites. In the name of fighting foreign interference, the state had imposed severe burdens on its own citizens ability to speak out. The courts were not fooled. A coalition of local media sued, arguing that the law violated their First Amendment rights. The government can’t force newspapers to report information about their sources; how can it force them to report entire databases of information