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US Senate will debate restricting free speech

September 9, 2014
US Bill of Rights

US Bill of Rights

Yesterday the US Senate voted to advance debate on SJ Res 19. The title of SJ Res is “A joint resolution proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States relating to contributions and expenditures intended to affect elections.” The title I would give SJ Res is “A joint resolution proposing an amendment to Constitution of the United states restricting First Amendment protected freedom of speech and freedom of press”. The motion to advance the bill doesn’t mean it has majority support, it just means the majority of the Senators want to have debate on the issue. Actually it would be almost impossible for such a Constitutional Amendment to actually become reality. The proposed Amendment would need to be approved by 2/3 of the Senate, 2/3 of the House of Representatives, and then 3/4 of state legislatures.

I’ve written on this topic many times. Most relevant to this bill is probably my post supporting the McCutcheon SCOTUS decision and a post from the early days of this blog celebrating Free Speech Week 2012.

As I write this post there are Senators coming up to the floor speaking for and against the bill. So far I have seen South Dakota Senator John Thune speak against the constitutional amendment. Thune rightfully pointed out that Congress should not have the ability to choose how much of a political voice American’s have. Thune also pointed out that a government trying to revoke the right to speak already has a name: totalitarianism. Then Thune went on to mention that Senate Democrats know it has no chance of passing and they are only pushing this because it is an election year. Thune says the Democrats will use the defeat of this Amendment as a way to get their base worked up at the polls this fall.

Senator Al Franken (D-MN) just got up to speak in support of the Amendment. It is odd to hear him say the Amendment is good because “most people” agree that restricting political speech is OK. So much for Democrats being the party that looks out for the civil rights of all Americans.

Going forward, this is a bill I will likely keep a close eye on. It is also a good real-world example of what would happen if Democrat US Senate candidate Rick Weiland were to become elected this fall. He has said he would spend his first year as Senator meeting with all members of Congress to pass a Constitutional Amendment allowing Congress to restrict political speech. Is that really what the top priority of a Senator from SD should be?

PS. Speaking of free speech being restricted by the government. Here is the live version of Remy’s song What Are the Chances? (An IRS Love Song).

  1. Merlyn Schutterle
    September 9, 2014 at 2:21 pm

    This is not about “free” speech. Firstly, an organization has no vocal chords, and cannot make any sound, nor does it know how to write. Some group of powerful people makes it up. What they do is buy a lot of time so the average person isn’t heard then they can promote their propaganda.That money restricts free speech, not advances it. It gives power to the powerful and stifles the average citizen. No organization should be given an advantage over a private individual.

    • September 9, 2014 at 2:42 pm

      It is about free speech. Section 2 of this Amendment does talk about “natural persons and corporations or other artificial entities created by law”. This amendment would apply equally to all of those groups, including a “natural person”. Making this debate about Corporations misses the fact that this amendment gives Congress and the States full power to regulate political speech.

      I hate the amount of money special interest groups spend on elections as well. But giving more power to the people that control the system to restrict free speech, will make the current problem of special interest groups involvement even worse. To believe this Amendment would fix anything it would mean people would have to believe the current elected officials in DC would willfully cut themselves off from special interest group moneys. I find that a stretch of the imagination to believe.

      Even the supporters of this Amendment (mostly Democrat) want to ‘carve out’ exceptions for their favored special interest groups. I really can’t see any benefit to restricting free speech for the sake of making it look like DC is being tough on special interest money.

  2. Merlyn Schutterle
    September 9, 2014 at 4:25 pm

    I didn’t say it wasn’t in the constitution I tried to make a point that that speech is not free or fair.the constitution isn’t always wise. Remember slavery was once legal under the constitution When it is obviously wrong and unfair it provides the opportunity to be changed and it is the responsibility of us patriots to change it.

    • September 9, 2014 at 4:44 pm

      Good point. about speech not always being free or fair. And I also agree there are some problems with the Constitution (to me the commerce clause is a big one). But in this case I think the damage that could be done via such an amendment would cause more harm that what it would try to fix. This amendment, if passed, would allow the government to directly decide how political speech can be used. To begin with I think it would just be used to level the playing field. But it would take a lot of trust in DC politicians to believe they would have the self-control to keep from restricting groups that are unliked.

      • Merlyn Schutterle
        September 9, 2014 at 7:56 pm

        When a person lives in any kind of society, some freedoms have to be sacrificed.

        We ARE the government. Ken, or at least supposed to be.It’s our responsibility to see we send the right people to represent us. If we don’t, we deserve what we get. It is majority rule whether we like it or not.

  1. September 15, 2014 at 11:39 am
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