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Shutting Up Free Speech

May 21, 2014

Last week Majority Leader Reid announced his intention to amend the U.S. Constitution by advancing a proposal first introduced by Senate Democrats last year. The proposal would cripple Americans’ First Amendment rights by allowing Congress to decide what qualifies as acceptable political speech. By taking up the proposed amendment in the coming weeks, Senate Democrats are advancing a political strategy designed to help their short-term electoral gain, no matter the long-term harm to free speech.

A law five times as long

A law five times as long

The Constitution’s Take on Political Speech

The First Amendment restricts government power in some of the most important aspects of Americans’ lives, such as religious observances and assembling one with another. In the case of political involvement, the amendment protects the right of Americans to advance an idea or message without the government silencing them. The Supreme Court has held that “however pernicious an opinion may seem,” it is not for the government to stop it; rather, it is in the “competition of other ideas” that opinions are to be corrected.

Senate Democrats Take on Political Speech

In contrast to the simple, unambiguous, limitations placed on Congress by the founders, Senate Democrats are pushing an amendment that is almost five times as long and drastically more controlling in its scope. Under the proposed constitutional amendment, the government — both at the state and federal levels — would be able to regulate spending by organized groups wanting to participate in the political process. The proposal would eradicate the Founding Fathers’ limitation on what Congress can do and replace it with a limit on the rights of individual Americans.

The amendment’s stated reason for this sleight of hand is to “protect the integrity of the legislative and electoral processes.” But the real goal is to take away a right from the American people, and turn it into a power held by the government.

Democrats Seek to Silence Americans Who Oppose Them

Senate Democrats’ proposed amendment also makes it unmistakably clear that they are willing to enable some Americans to speak while denying that right to others. Billionaires willing to spend their fortunes supporting the causes and candidates of extreme environmentalism are fine, people spending their own money on causes Democrats dislike would be forbidden.

This is not the first time Democrats have attempted to curtail some citizens’ speech in matters they deem unacceptable, while allowing others. Whether by the Obama administration’s flirtation with empowering the IRS to control speech, the IRS’ denial of tax exemption applications for certain conservative groups, or the attempts in recent years to force disclosure for some political groups, it is clear that Washington Democrats just want to keep other people from opposing them.

“The impulse to silence other Americans is increasing. This amendment is the ultimate realization of that impulse. It is the desired end result of everyone who would rather force an opponent to shut up than engage in an open debate.”New Hampshire Union Leader, May 17, 2014