Payment required to read the law? Supreme Court will decide.
Steve Bullock, the only Democratic presidential candidate focused mainly on achieving a top goal of democracy reformers, ended his campaign on Monday.
When the governor of Montana entered the already crowded field in May, he vowed to make his bid for the White House about "one big idea" — ending the influence of big money in politics as a prerequisite for addressing the nation's other big problems, from health care coverage to climate change.
Six months later, his fundraising and statistically insignificant standing in the polls remained lackluster enough that he'd only been invited to one debate and had little prospect of being asked to another. When announcing the end of his campaign, Bullock acknowledged that "the concerns that propelled me to enter in the first place have not changed."
A handful of the remaining contenders have added other aspects of the democracy reform agenda to their own platforms, but none made it a central pillar of their campaigns the way Bullock did. And generally they talk about these issues only when asked, as happened when November's debate in Atlanta turned for a few minutes to the perception that access to the voting booth is too difficult for too many.
The most important legal challenge in decades to a basic tenet of open government — laws should be available to public to read for free — went before the Supreme Court on Monday.
The justices heard arguments in a dispute over whether Georgia may have copyright protections on its annotated legal code books, which means they're not available to the public without cost. It appears to be the first time in more than a century the court has considered the limits of the "government edicts doctrine," which bars copyrights on statutes and legal decisions.
Open records proponents, civil rights groups and the news media say it's unconstitutional to limit the peoples' access to the law books most widely in use. The Trump administration has taken Georgia's side.
Add Indiana to the states with nonprofit, nonpartisan organizations trying to improve the functioning of democracy.
Indiana Citizen, which debuted last month, is the brainchild of longtime Democratic activists Bill and Ann Moreau.
Earlier in his career, Bill Moreau worked for Birch Bayh, a prominent senator from Indiana in the 1960s and 1970s. Then he served in various capacities, including chief of staff, when Bayh's son Evan was Indiana's secretary of state and then governor.
He is retiring at the end of the year as a partner in the law firm Barnes & Thornburg to focus full time on promoting the work of Indiana Citizen, which is operated by the nonpartisan, nonprofit Indiana Citizen Education Foundation Inc.
The initial goal of the group is to improve Indiana's low standing among the states when comparing voter turnout. The state ranked 43rd in voter participation in last year's election, the Census Bureau estimates, a tiny uptick after coming in 47th in the previous midterm, in 2014. In the 2016 presidential election the state ranked 41st, a drop of three places from the previous presidential year.
The ambitious goal of Indiana Citizen is to move the state into the top 10 for turnout next November.
"Beneficiaries of DACA, or the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, are a generation of young immigrants who were brought to our country as children, but are now at risk of losing their protections," argues Simone Campbell, executive director of Network Lobby for Catholic Social Justice Lobby for Catholic Social Justice.
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