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Interest Groups

1. Interest groups have been around since the 1800’s. The reason for the formation of these groups was to support those with difference in opinion on certain matters, specifically those that targeted unfairness towards others. From the beginning, interest groups have had a very significant effect on the government, including legislation. Interest groups of the past are very different than those in present day. Those in the past were geared towards uniting those people with the same view, like farmer’s rights. Now, interest groups are formed all over and consist of big corporation pushing for economic growth in the U.S. and a more productive work force.

There are two ways that interest groups can effect the legislation process. One way is lobbying and another way is the iron triangle. Lobbying are those specific groups going to Capitol Hill to meet with certain Congress members or their aides. The iron triangle is the interaction between regulatory agencies such as the legislative act, the lobbying disclosure act, and the honest leadership and open government act.

Lobbying is one of the most beneficial way to have effects on legislation. Lobbyist are those who represent an interest group and fights for their rights and concerns. Lobbying has had a lot of influence on the way the government legislates and what comes to the forefront. Stated in the article, “Interest Group Connection: Engineering, Lobbying, and Policymaking in Washington”, “As long as citizen enjoy the “the right petition the government for a redress of grievances”, lobbyist will continue to have an important role in making public policy” (Wilcox, Shaiko & Herrnson, 1998, pg. 4). Elected officials and their aides are in need of interest groups. Interest groups of all kind are the ones that will help defend a bill or a cause that are particular parties elected officials is interested in. These groups provide money and support which in exchange cause effects on the legislative agenda in Congress (Wilcox, Shaiko & Herrnson, 1998).

2. In July 2009, the first case of cyberbullying made headlines as a federal judge threw out the case from a lower court. Prosecutors in St. Louis

contended that their ruling was correct and that the federal judge was out to “make a name for himself.” This new form of bullying resulted in the

death of a 13-year-old girl. What is the constitutional background in cases such as this?

The days of bullying only occurring in a classroom, on a school bus, or even on a playground are slowly becoming distant memories of the past. A

new form of bullying is slowly taking root right under the noses of parents through the use of the internet, and especially in social media.

Cyberbullying is a trend where bullies can taunt unsuspecting children with harassing and threatening messages online or in social media. Let’s

begin the analysis of cyberbullying as it relates to the constitutional background in cases such as this.

“Megan Meier was a thirteen-year-old girl living in Dardenne Prairie, Missouri, when she suffered a vicious hoax perpetrated by her neighbors

through a fraudulently created profile on MySpace. After the fictitious profile of an attractive sixteen-year-old boy had been used to cultivate a

close relationship with her, the communications turned mean, eventually ending in a message that drove Megan to commit suicide (Castle,

2009).”

“Her death became the focus of a media storm a year later when it was publicly released that her adult neighbor had been intimately involved in

the plot. This Comment discusses the issues surrounding online cyberbullying, and the California federal jury in United States v. Drew that

returned a guilty verdict for Lori Drew, the adult perpetrator of the hoax of which Megan Meier was the victim. This Comment argues that the

prosecution of Lori Drew was a proper use of the felony provision of the federal statute commonly known as the Computer Fraud and Abuse

Act14 (hereinafter ―CFAA‖) to punish the fraudulent and tortious conduct at issue in cases similar to United States v. Drew (Castle, 2009).”

“At first blush, the issue of cyberbullying would seem to be a First Amendment issue. After all, it involves the expression of words and thoughts

through an historically unregulated medium. This view, however, is misguided. The First Amendment at its core protects fundamentally political

expression that is a cherished part of American democracy. Cyberbullying, on the other hand, is not the expression of personal or philosophical

ideology. Rather, it involves attacks on the character and person of another. These attacks are not the type of speech the Supreme Court has

found to enjoy First Amendment protection. As a result, cyberbullying should be regulated in the same way that in-person communications are

regulated under harassment and school bullying statutes. As one scholar states, ―[m]any times in cyberbullying cases, lawyers and judges get

caught up in constitutional legalese and forget that they are dealing with the narrow issue of hateful and harassing speech (Castle, 2009).”

The interpretation based on the First Amendment and the right to freedom of speech in this case is that, there was the use of malicious intentions

in creating the fake myspace profile, which was used to gain the trust of a 13 year old girl, and then once that trust was gained, it turned harmful.

Which in turn, was the motivating factor, and the ultimate cause of the suicide of a 13 year old middle school student.

Freedom of speech is speech that is not used to willfully, knowingly, and intentionally, deceive another person, nor to bring or cause unprovoked

harm to another individual. This is where the First Amendment right to freedom of speech is drawn. It is the ability to express one’s self in a

manner of poetic illustration. But when you allow an artistic illustration to be used with malicious intent, coupled with a fraudulent profile on social

media, to exploit the insecurities of a 13 year old middle school student, the act in itself becomes criminal based on intent and motive alone. The

constitution protects free speech, as long as the freedom of speech does not cause malice harm or intent to harm another person.

3. One approach to reducing interest group influence is to turn their own strengths against them. After the Newtown Massacre, Mayors Against Guns invested $12 million in television ads against the NRA in key states. These ads were persuasive and helped make gun safety a national conversation. But Amy Showalter points out in Forbes that they also permitted senators in deep red states to say “New York City didn’t tell them how to vote,” depicting gun safety advocates as distant, cultural elites. Gun safety advocates have capitalized on the same sort of messaging, however, to the opposite effect. The NRA may still be menacing enough and well-funded enough to primary some candidates out of office or intimidate them into a vote, but now the public sees them as those ruthless players who win even when the overwhelming majority of the public supports reform. That has prompted some candidates to distance themselves from the NRA, which is now perceived as politically toxic in some places.

Your thoughts and comments?

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