Legislators run for the exits on SOPA/PIPA after protests

In darkness, there is apparently much sunlight.  As a number of Internet sites either went dark or protested the proposed anti-piracy bills circulating in Congress, a number of sponsors ran for cover, reports The Hill:

GOP Sens. Roy Blunt (Mo.), Orrin Hatch (Utah), John Boozman (Ark.) and Marco Rubio (Fla.) dropped their support for the Senate version of the anti-piracy legislation, and Sen. John Cornyn (Texas), who leads the Senate GOP’s campaign arm, said the legislation should be put on hold.

Hatch, Rubio, Blunt and Boozman all pulled their sponsorship of the Senate bill.

“Rushing something with such potential for far-reaching consequences is something I cannot support,” Hatch said in a statement.

And a few climbed off the fence:

Other lawmakers staked out their opposition for the first time. Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and Tea Party favorite Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) came out against SOPA and PIPA, with DeMint labeling the anti-piracy measures “misguided bills that will cause more harm than good.”

“When protecting intellectual property rights, we must not undermine free speech, threaten economic growth or impose burdensome regulations,” DeMint tweeted.

Rand Paul, who had already opposed PIPA (the Senate version of the bill), pledged to filibuster the bill in order to defeat it.  He’ll get his chance next Tuesday, because Harry Reid still hasn’t given up on the entertainment industry’s big wish-list item.  He has a cloture vote scheduled at that time, and a defeat will mean the end of both bills, probably for the rest of this session.

That doesn’t mean a complete end to the issue.  Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) insists that his bill will move forward, and that opponents don’t have a coherent argument against its current form.  Smith says that the government would have to get a court order to shut down websites and that their power won’t be abused.  However, that is still a prior restraint without a proper form of due process for the accused, whose property should not be seized (which is essentially what this is) without a solid finding of guilt, and not just a court injunction, which is what SOPA allows.  It’s essentially the same process as we saw in Sackett v EPA, only with a smidge more of judicial review.

John Boehner says he will put the brakes on SOPA consideration in the House as well:

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) expressed a reluctance to move forward with SOPA on Wednesday, with both sides still divided over the bill and its potential consequences.

“Listen, this bill is in committee. It’s had a number of hearings. It went through a markup, and it’s pretty clear to many of us that there’s a lack of consensus at this point,” Boehner said. “And I would expect the committee to continue its work to try to build a consensus before this bill moves.”

Clearly, the opponents have the momentum.