Ted Cruz blasts Senate Democrats for trying to repeal the free speech protections of the First Amendment

Ted Cruz

The Senate Judiciary Committee heard testimony from the upper chamber’s two party leaders, Harry Reid (D-NV) and Mitch McConnell (R-KY), yesterday on a constitutional amendment that would place heavy limitations on political speech.

The proposed constitutional amendment has next to no chance of passage, requiring two-thirds majorities from both chambers as well as ratification from three-fifths of the states, but Senate Democrats are using as part of an effort to get their base to the polls this fall. In other words, the committee hearing on the amendment was a charade.

But it did hearing did produce some highlights, among them Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-TX) fiery and eloquent defense of the Bill of Rights. The amendment before the committee, the conservative favorite said, “would repeal the free speech protections of the First Amendment.”

“Let’s be clear, this amendment doesn’t just do it for corporations, it doesn’t just do it for billionaires — nothing in this amendment is limited to corporations or billionaires. This amendment, if adopted, would give Congress the absolute authority to regulate the political speech of every single American with no limitations, whatsoever,” said Cruz. “This amendment is about power and it is about politicians silencing the citizens.”

Cruz noted that Democrats, including late-Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) and former Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI), once opposed constitutional amendments that would place restrictions on political speech, quoting the two at length.

“Mr. Chairman, I agree with Ted Kennedy and Russ Feingold, and where are the liberals today?” Cruz asked. “Why is there not a liberal standing here defending the Bill of Rights and the First Amendment?”

The Texas Republican went onto list groups across the ideological spectrum — naming including Planned Parenthood, National Right to Life, National Rifle Association, Brady Center on Handgun Violence, and Sierra Club —  that 42 Senate Democrats want to “muzzle” through the amendment.

“This amendment, if adopted, would give Congress the power to ban books and to ban movies,” said Cruz. “Ray Bradbury would be astonished, because we are seeing Farenheit 451 Democrats today. The American people should be angry about this and, Mr. Chairman, the senators who put their name[s] to this should be embarrassed that they have signed up for repealing the free speech amendments of the First Amendment.”

Cruz announced that he’s filed two bills to protect political speech. The SuperPAC Elimination Act, his office says, would “would eliminate the caps on direct contributions to candidates from individuals and also require all donations over $200 to be disclosed within 24 hours.”

The other measure, the Free All Speech Act, is would require that political speech restrictions on individuals also apply to media corporations. Obviously, that would run afoul of the First Amendment, but that’s the point of the measure. The summary notes that “if legislation is unconstitutional as applied to media corporations, it shall carry no force as applied to individuals.”

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