political speech

Get ready for a showdown over free speech: Harry Reid will push partial repeal of the First Amendment next week

When the Senate returns to Washington next week, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) is expected to bring up S.J. Res. 19, a constitutional amendment proposed by Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM) that would effectively repeal political speech protections in the First Amendment.

Reid filed a motion to proceed on the constitutional amendment on August 1, just before the chamber adjourned for its summer recess. Although the original text of the amendment gave Congress the sole power to regulate political speech, including campaign finance regulations, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved the measure with substitute language to allow states to implement their own rules and regulations, in addition to those passed by Congress.

The measure, however, is an attempt to diminish the influence of issue-focused nonprofit organizations and political action committees, which, Senate Democrats say, are often funded by corporate interests. Section 2 of the amendment would allow Congress and state legislatures to prohibit “corporations or other artificial entities created by law…from spending money to influence elections.”

Liberals Frothing at the Mouth over McCutcheon Ruling

“Liberals claim to want to give a hearing to other views but then are shocked and offended to discover that there are other views.” — William F. Buckley Jr.

For the second time in four years, liberals all over America are once again in the throes of apoplectic rage at the Supreme Court over a decision expanding free speech rights.

On January 21, 2010, in a 5-4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission that the First Amendment protections of free speech prohibit the government from restricting political donations by corporations (and labor unions, but you never hear the left complaining about that).

This ruling became a rallying cry for the left, who decry the corrupting influence of money on our political process. Eight days after the decision, Barack Obama stood before the assembled members of the House and Senate, as well as the justices of the Supreme Court, and railed against the immorality and danger of the decision.

Quoth Emperor Barack, “With all due deference to separation of powers, last week the Supreme Court reversed a century of law that, I believe, will open the floodgates for special interests, including foreign corporations, to spend without limit in our elections…I don’t think American elections should be bankrolled by America’s most powerful interests or, worse, by foreign entities. They should be decided by the American people. And I urge Democrats and Republicans to pass a bill that helps correct some of these problems.”

Disgraced ex-IRS official will not get immunity in exchange for testimony

When disgraced IRS official Lois Lerner appears before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on Wednesday, she will not receive immunity for any testimony she gives, according to Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA):

“Her attorney indicates now that she will testify. We’ve had a back and forth negotiation,” Issa told Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday. “But quite frankly, we believe that evidence that we’ve gathered causes her in her best interest to be summoned to testify.”

The evidence that Issa, who chairs the House Oversight Committee, has obtained are emails showing that Lerner drafted the proposed IRS regulations that would restrict political speech of nonprofit groups that engage in public policy discussions. The regulations are currently being considered by the IRS.

Wallace asked whether the House Oversight Committee offered Lerner immunity in exchange for her testimony. “We did not,” Issa replied, adding later that he believes the disgraced IRS official will answer all the committee’s questions about the powerful tax agencies targeting of conservative groups.

Congress’ 10 Worst Infringements on Personal Liberty

The focus in on the NSA controversy and ObamaCare got us thinking — what are the worst laws passed by Congress? So we did some thinking and came up with some of the most egregious laws to be passed by Congress. The list was so large that we had to cut it into two posts one on personal liberty and the other dealing with economic liberty, which will be posted next week.

The following list isn’t in any particular order, so don’t take one bad law being ahead of another as anything significant.

Espionage Act (1917)

The Espionage Act, passed nearly two months after the United States entered World War I, has had startling ramifications for free speech in the United States. Shortly after becoming law, Eugene Debs, a socialist and labor leader, was arrested and convicted for giving a speech that “interfered” with the recruitment of soldiers for the war effort. The law primarily used for prosecution of alleged spies and whistleblowers working in the government. For example, the government tried to prosecute Daniel Ellsberg of Pentagon Papers fame under the act, but the jury declared a mistrial. NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden has also been charged under the Espionage Act. Both Ellsberg and Snownden’s disclosures were embarrassments for the government.

Indian Removal Act (1830)

Leftist hypocrisy on free speech and government surveillance

One truth about politics: when those who have taken up one side of an issue are forced to accept and defend that same issue, should it suit their needs to do so, the acknowledgement of their previous criticism will be generally non-existent.

Take the histrionics surrounding 2010’s Citizens United decision — “Corporations aren’t people! They shouldn’t have First Amendment rights! Elections will be bought and sold by evil dark money special interest groups! Those with the most cash will always win!”

Forgetting for a moment that Barack Obama managed to get re-elected despite the impressive amount of money that was raised to support Mitt Romney via super PACs that were not associated with his actual campaign, this idea that corporations — really just groups of people — shouldn’t retain First Amendment speech rights is proving quite the interesting conundrum for those who both HATED the Citizens United decision but now find themselves DESPISING that National Security Agency’s (NSA) peek under the hood at millions of lines of metadata on American citizens’ phone records.

Because corporations such as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Google are taking the uncomfortable action of invoking their First Amendment speech rights to file suit, in the case of the former, and in requesting the release of records showing exactly how persistent the government was in insisting that the search giant provide them private information on American citizens.

Michael Turk wrote a terrific blog post detailing a similarly terrific piece on the ACLU v. Clapper case by Wendy Kaminer at The Atlantic at his blog, Kung Fu Quip:

Political Ads Are Litmus Test for FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler

Obama's FCC pick Tom Wheeler

Since he took the helm of the Federal Communications Commission, Tom Wheeler, the former chief cable industry lobbyist, has come under fire for playing favorites with his former employers.

Now, the embattled Chairman is scrambling to clean up the mess caused by exempting pay-TV operators from political ad disclosures as candidates gear up for the election this November.

The law has long required broadcast television stations, cable operators, and satellite television to maintain publicly-accessible political files that disclose the identity of candidates and organizations that buy political ad time and how much it costs. That changed in 2012, when the FCC started requiring that broadcast television stations publish their political files in a searchable database hosted by the FCC.

Sorry, Chuck Schumer, Ted Cruz is right about Democrats’ plans to repeal political speech protections in the First Amendment

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) touched a nerve when he blasted Senate Democrats for the constitutional amendment they want to pass that would ostensibly repeal the political speech protections of the First Amendment.

Politico Magazine ran a piece earlier this week by Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) in which they claimed Cruz is wrong because of certain “balancing tests” on free speech.

Basically, the two Democrats compare their absurdly unreasonable constitutional amendment to completely reasonable limitations on free speech, including safety restrictions, laws against libel, and — drumroll, please — prohibitions on child pornography. Yeah, really, they went there (emphasis added):

Oh, in case you forgot, House Democrats really hate the First Amendment

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and House Democrats will introduce a constitutional amendment today designed overturn recent Supreme Court decisions by repealing political speech protections in the First Amendment:

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi will introduce the House’s version of legislation that would overturn decisions like Citizens United v. FEC and McCutcheon v. FEC — court cases that helped create modern-day super PACs and stripped rules limiting aggregate limits on donations.

The amendment would give Congress and the states the power to regulate campaign financing, fundraising and spending, including money spent by independent expenditures.

The proposed constitutional amendment sounds a little different from the one proposed by Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM) and backed by most Democratic senators. The original text of the upper chamber’s version, which passed the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday, would give Congress the power to regulate political speech.

The intended effect of both amendments, however, is to undermine political speech. Because, in Orwellian American, gutting a civil liberty protected by the Bill of Rights is what passes for an election year issue. Or something.

A new low for Senate Democrats: They’re actually running on limiting a fundamental right as part of their election year strategy

First Amendment

Senate Democrats plan to move forward on Sen. Tom Udall’s (D-NM) proposed constitutional amendment that would repeal part of the First Amendment and allow Congress regulate political speech. Because that doesn’t have disaster written all over it, or anything:

It’s been 22 years since the last amendment to the Constitution took effect, but Senate Democrats are hoping to alter the nation’s founding document once again.

The likelihood of crossing the threshold to amend the Constitution over campaign finance is slim to none, however. An amendment would have to garner support from two-thirds of the House and Senate, before being approved by three-fourths of the states.

Despite that seemingly insurmountable hurdle, Senate Democrats are forging ahead with a plan to bring SJ Res 19 to the floor.

This resolution would add a 28th Amendment, stating that Congress can regulate contributions and spending in federal elections. It would also give state governments the same authority in statewide contests.

Democratic leaders have already said they plan to bring the amendment up for a vote in the Senate by the end of the year. But the resolution’s sponsor, Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., is hoping for a vote before the midterm elections.

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.”


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