DownsizeDCFoundation.org
February 22, 2010
Do you have a right to be anonymous?
By Jim Babka

Quote of the Day: "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." 
-- Voltaire (attributed)

Subject: Do you have a right to be anonymous?

We need your help to file another brief with the Supreme Court. This time we want to protect your right to speak and act anonymously.

This message will explain . . .

* Why the right to anonymity is important
* The controversial nature of the case about which we want to file a brief
* What the brief will cost and how much time we have

Your right to be anonymous

You already exercise your right to anonymity when you vote. Without the secret ballot you would be vulnerable to various forms of intimidation. Other forms of anonymous expression used to be protected. For instance . . .

America's Founder's published anonymously

The country you know and love probably wouldn't exist without anonymous expression. Many of the most influential writings of the Founding era were published anonymously . . .

. . . including the Federalist and Anti-Federalist Papers.

The men who debated the Constitution wanted to be able to speak their minds, without fear of retribution. So . . .

If anonymous expression was important for the creation of the United States, isn't it important for you too?

For instance, should you be able to . . .

* Distribute anonymous pamphlets
* Make anonymous contributions to candidates
* Broadcast anonymous advertisements

This kind of anonymity was crucial to the civil rights movement

In the past, the identity of those who contributed to the work of civil rights movement was legally protected, in order to shield them from retribution, intimidation, and violence.

It's doubtful the civil rights movement could have obtained the funding it needed without the legal right for people to both make and receive anonymous donations.

But YOU don't have this right today. You cannot . . .

* Make anonymous contributions to candidates for federal office
* Solicit anonymous donations if you're running for federal office
* Advertise anonymously, if you're subject is the election of one or more of your federal rulers

As a result . . .

* You're vulnerable to potential intimidation by your employer, the press, the government, and even your fellow citizens
* If you run for office on an unpopular platform people may fear retribution for supporting you, so you may not be able to raise much money -- your ideas may remain unpopular simply because your reasons for believing them are never heard

Anonymity vs. Transparency

The politicians and the mainstream media claim that anonymity must be prohibited in order to prevent corruption, but these are self-serving lies. The exact opposite is true. When people are afraid to speak, then corruption flourishes. It's important to realize that you have been shut out . . .

* Minority opinions have no power to corrupt the government, because they have no control over the government
* Incumbent office holders are the people who have the power to do corrupt things, not the challengers you support -- not you, the taxpayer
* Total transparency is something the government owes to you, NOT something that you owe to the government

Does the government work for you, or do you work for the government?

We strongly believe that if YOU want to . . .

* Express yourself freely, and be heard,
* Regain control of your government,
* Be able to much more easily fire and replace your so-called elected representatives, then . . .

ALL aspects of the existing campaign finance laws must be overturned, including those that require the compulsory public disclosure of the names of donors or grass roots activists, like you.  We believe the Supreme Court must hear the principled voice of DC Downsizers, because . . .

A new Supreme Court case, Doe v. Reed, may determine how your right to anonymity is treated for years to come

We do NOT get to choose the cases heard by the Supreme Court. But the court’s decision may affect your rights for years to come.

Washington state's Secretary of State ruled that the names and addresses of people who signed a referendum petition be made available for their opponents to publish on the Internet. This case is controversial, because . . . 

* The referendum petition was for one of those "defense of marriage" amendments. But . . .
* Just like our Quote of the Day states, one doesn't have to agree with the position of the initiative to defend the right of those who signed it to remain anonymous. And . . .
* It appears intimidation was a real possibility in this case.

Those who opposed the "defense of marriage" initiative were understandably passionate about it. They wanted to . . .

* Publish the names of the petition signers online
* Have opponents of the initiative look for the names of people they know so they can, ominously, have a "difficult conversation" with them

Would you find this intimidating?

Have you ever signed a ballot initiative petition? If so, did you ever dream that . . .

* Your name, address, email address, or phone number might be published on the Internet
* People would be encouraged to contact you for a "difficult conversation?"

We think the Golden Rule applies here . . .

If you ever want to be able to speak and act anonymously, then you must also protect this right for those with whom you disagree.

We also think this case is a immensely important opportunity to educate the Supreme Court about YOUR right to anonymous expression. This is why . . .

* We're participating in a coalition effort, working with the Free Speech Coalition, to file this amicus curiae (friend of the court) brief in the Supreme Court case, Doe v. Reed.
* The expected cost is $15,000, and we need to cover a portion of this expense.
* Our legal team needs to hear from us this week. In fact . . .

We cannot commit to help without a substantial response to this appeal.

Will you help us defend your right to anonymous expression?

* You can use our secure online contribution form to make a donation for this purpose to the Downsize DC Foundation.
* Donations to the Downsize DC Foundation are tax-deductible, if you itemize deductions on your tax returns.
* We will send you a receipt.

And to thank you for your support . . . 

* Donors who provide an email address on the contribution form will receive a pdf copy, via email, of the brief you helped support.
* If you want YOUR gift to be ANONYMOUS, please check the "Do not add my name to any public lists" box on our contribution form -- otherwise we may gratefully acknowledge your donation in a future Downsizer-Dispatch.
* Donors who give more than $60 in a one-time contribution, or make a new, credit-card pledge of $7 or more per month to the Foundation, will receive a printed copy of the brief, printed to Supreme Court specifications.

Please join us in supporting YOUR right to anonymous expression. 

Jim Babka, President
Perry Willis, Vice President
Downsize DC Foundation

P.S. Details for mailing a check are available on the online contribution form. Donations of stocks and securities are also encouraged. To donate stock, please hit reply to this Dispatch, and let us know how to contact you.

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