A mixed economy tilting toward ever more government control will eventually reach a tipping point at which it must begin making moves to wall off its political class from the people. An advancing dictatorship will have to attack freedom of speech sooner or later. Later has arrived.
Two years ago, President Obama called for a constitutional amendment to overturn two pro-free speech Supreme Court rulings, Citizens United, which lifted restrictions on corporate and union campaign-related spending, and McCutcheon, which lifted restrictions on aggregate campaign contributions by individuals.
On Monday, September 8, just such an amendment, The Democracy For All Amendment: S.J.Res. 19 & H.J.Res. 119, was introduced in the Senate. New Jersey Democrat Senator Robert Menendez, one of the sponsors, issued a statement in support of the amendment.
I left this reply to Menendez's statement:
Once you cut through the doublespeak, it comes down to this: The purpose of this amendment is quite transparent and far-reaching; to effectively repeal the First Amendment. The First Amendment was crafted precisely to prevent government officials from having the power to decide who can say what, how often, in what manner, and when—i.e. to abridge speech in any way. The design to stop “radical special interests” from expressing their views is an attack on ideas of which the political class disapproves; a direct attack on intellectual freedom. The provision to distinguish between individuals and corporations is a direct attack on freedom of association: Corporations are nothing more than free associations of individuals. To infringe on association rights is to infringe on individual rights. Ironclad protection for freedom of the press? How does that jibe with silencing media corporations? Press and speech are two sides of the same coin; either both are free, or neither are free.
This amendment is a politician’s protection-from-the people’s dissent amendment. Once government gets the power to regulate speech, it will have the power to silence its own critics. The “reasonableness” requirement is the perfect example of non-objective, and thus arbitrary,law—which is government of men and not of laws. Then we will have a government of, for, and by the political class—a ruling class of unlimited power. Every American who values his liberty should make it his top priority to oppose this amendment. When our freedom of speech goes, so will go what’s left of all of our other individual rights. The First Amendment is first for a reason: Free speech is the only real bulwark against advancing tyranny. Let’s protect it. Stop this amendment.
Menendez’s statement is incorporated into a lengthier article in the New Jersey Star-Ledger. I’ll have more to say on Menendez’s article (not yet published online), as well as this amendment.
Are Media Corporations Next?