(Video) Does Free Speech offend you?

August 31, 2015

Yesterday I wrote about politically-correct silliness at Wesleyan University, head-shaking but largely harmless identity politics.

Today’s video, however, takes a look at a far grimmer trend at our colleges and universities: the assault on free speech in the name of not hurting anyone’s feelings.

What were once places of free inquiry and defenders of intellectual liberty are more and more becoming places where speech –and, by extension, thought– is controlled by a progressive “PC police.” The irony is rich, because it’s the intellectual descendants of the free speech movement of the Sixties who have become the new enemies of freedom of speech.

Meet the new Boss, same as the old Boss.

via Prager University

RELATED: The narrator of the video, Greg Lukianoff, has written two books about the assault on free speech at our universities — Freedom from Speech and Unlearning Liberty.


Sweet Cakes By Melissa Refuses to Comply With Gag Order

July 7, 2015

Good for the Kleins. Seriously. This bureaucrat’s decision was just appalling on so many levels.

Nice Deb

aaron+and+melissa2

As you might have heard, the state of Oregon has decreed that Sweet Cakes by Melissa  must pay $135,000 to the lesbian couple whom they (apparently) “mentally raped” by refusing to bake their wedding cake.

Via Rachel Lu at the Federalist:

The final judgment, which came last Thursday, came with another twist. Aaron and Melissa Klein have also been given a “cease and desist” order, which effectively decrees they must refrain from stating their continued intention to abide by their moral beliefs.

Let’s be clear on why this is so sinister. There are times when speech rights conflict with other legitimate social goods. The public’s right to know can conflict with individual privacy rights. Sometimes threats to public safety warrant keeping secrets. There can be interesting debates about intellectual property rights. These cases can get tricky, and we should all understand that speech rights necessarily do have certain pragmatic limits.

 None of…

View original post 508 more words


Free Speech: I find your lack of faith disturbing, America.

May 24, 2015
x

Do we need a refresher?

Via Tom Nichols, here’s Charles Cooke on the results of a survey showing a majority of Democrats and a significant minority of Republicans effectively favor repealing the 1st Amendment:

Depressing news from YouGov:

“YouGov’s latest research shows that many Americans support making it a criminal offense to make public statements which would stir up hatred against particular groups of people. Americans narrowly support (41%) rather than oppose (37%) criminalizing hate speech, but this conceals a partisan divide. Most Democrats (51%) support criminalizing hate speech, with only 26% opposed. Independents (41% to 35%) and Republicans (47% to 37%) tend to oppose making it illegal to stir up hatred against particular groups. Support for banning hate speech is also particularly strong among racial minorities. 62% of black Americans, and 50% of Hispanics support criminalizing comments which would stir up hatred. White Americans oppose a ban on hate speech 43% to 36%.”

What’s disturbing is that the speech in question doesn’t directly incite violence. It doesn’t urge people to go right now and burn the shops of those unliked people “over there.”

Rather, the “hate speech” referred to is a vague term (1) meaning “hurtful things you said that I don’t like.” To give a personal example, I’m very clear regarding my dislike for Islam: I think it an antisemitic, misogynistic, and bigoted faith with aggressive imperatives that lead it to demand supremacy over other faiths and to make war on their adherents until they submit. I have serious questions about whether it is or can be compatible with liberal, post-Enlightenment societies, at least with regard to Muslims who choose to live it as Muhammad intended.

For some, that would qualify as “hate speech”under the standards of that survey, because I would be “stirring up hatred” against Islam, though I would never advocate violence against Muslims, no matter how strong my criticisms of their faith. As Cooke explains, that standard is nevertheless exactly what would get me in trouble in the UK, where free speech protections are dying on the vine under the assault of laws such as the Public Order Act.

That a majority of the self-identified adherents of one of our two major parties would favor laws to criminalize the expression of thought — and that a large portion of the supposedly conservative party would agree with them! — is profoundly disturbing. I hope, indeed, I pray, that this is simply because people agreed with something they thought “sounded reasonable” and didn’t think through the implications thereof, rather than indicating a fundamental change to something that has made us, as a nation, truly exceptional.

Otherwise, we’re in deep trouble.

RELATED: While a number of Republicans have lost their way when it comes to free speech, let’s not forget that it was the Democrats who actually proposed an amendment effectively gutting the 1st Amendment.

Footnote:
(1) This is a great analysis of the increasing calls in the MSM for censoring free speech. Well-worth reading. (h/t Charles Cooke)


(Video) Police State of Wisconsin: ‘I Thought It Was a Home Invasion’

April 22, 2015

Following up on my earlier post about the Left’s fascist abuse of the law to intimidate and terrorize political opponents, here’s an interview Dana Loesch of The Blaze TV conducted with David French, the author of the National Review exposé, and the head of the Wisconsin Club for Growth, one of the victims in this:

Someone needs to be fired over this, at the least.


The 1st Amendment prevents the government from attacking ISIS ideologically? Really?

October 8, 2014
"But don't criticize them."

“But don’t criticize them.”

This is why the Left cannot be taken seriously on constitutional matters: they don’t even understand the basics. Via Power Line:

Bill Gertz has a lengthy and fascinating piece in the Washington Free Beacon about what he calls the Obama administration’s failure “to wage ideological war against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS) terrorists.” Gertz attributes the failure to “fears that attacking [ISIS’s] religious philosophy will violate the constitutional divide between church and state.”

It seems difficult to believe that the First Amendment explains Obama’s unwillingness to acknowledge, for example, that the Islamic State is Islamic. Gertz cites James Glassman, former undersecretary of state for public diplomacy. Glassman seems to rely mainly on what he hears coming out of the State Department.

For the record, here’s what the 1st Amendment says:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

I don’t see anything in there about “the government may not criticize the religious doctrine of an enemy organization,” do you?  Perhaps our constitutional law professor-president can explain it to us.

Gertz calls this a “surrender in the war of ideas,” and he is right. It’s a pathetic bit of hand-waving to hide the fact that the administration desperately does not want to deal with the Islamic doctrine cited by ISIS as the justification for its jihad. For whatever reason –political correctness, a leftist reluctance to criticize “victims of colonialism,” a fear of upsetting allied Muslim states, or even a secular inability to deal with minds operating on a religious paradigm– the Obama administration (and, to a lesser extent, the Bush administration before it) will go to any lengths to deny the truth: we are in a global conflict with an Islamic supremacist/revivalist movement that, while having many sometimes fractious elements, is united by a largely common and mainstream understanding of Islamic texts and doctrines. And until and if (1) we can get imams willing to go public with their criticism in Islamic terms of the doctrinal arguments of the jihadists, we will continue to surrender in this war of ideas and the jihadists will continue to attract recruits.

Footnote:

(1) Which is problematic, because a) I think the Muslim Brotherhood, al Qaeda, and other jihad groups have a very good understanding of Islamic doctrine, and imams critical of them have trouble finding counter-arguments; and b) critics of the jihad who do come forward often put their lives at real risk.


Senator Mark Begich (D-AK) apparently has trouble with the Constitution

July 13, 2014

dunce_cap

So, I’m enjoying a quiet morning and reading an article on the reactions of the various candidates for the US Senate from Alaska to the Hobby Lobby decision, when I come across this howler from the incumbent, Mark Begich:

“I believe people, not corporations, have a right to practice their constitutional right to freedom of religion, but not at the expense of others,” said Begich.

Sigh.

It’s tough to decide whether Senator Begich, whose seat is not secure, is just ignorant of what the Supreme Court decided, the Constitution, and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, or if he’s a desperate hack just reciting DNC talking points. Of course, both could be true. But the key to that quote above is the senator’s odd belief that, upon forming a corporation, individuals somehow give up their natural rights.

Senator Begich, meet the First Amendment. First Amendment, meet Senator Begich:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

The right to peaceably assemble has been held to include the right to freely associate. See, for example, NAACP v. Alabama (1958), which held, in effect, that individuals do not give up their rights when they form an association (1). And a corporation is an association of individuals with rights and inherits those rights:

Corporations have rights because natural persons have rights. It is sometimes said that corporations are “creations of the state,” but that’s not really true. Corporations are created by people — they are merely recognized by the state. 

To deny the rights of a “legal person,” such as a corporation, is no different than denying those rights to the individuals who own that corporation. Perhaps the newspaper editors of Senator Begich’s home state would like to ask him if their papers, in his view, lack the rights of free speech and freedom of the press, also recognized by the First Amendment, simply because they’re incorporated businesses. The answer should be interesting.

PS: Democrats sure have a problem with that whole freedom and democracy thing, don’t they? Why, yes. Yes they do.

Footnote:
(1) In short, the state of Alabama demanded the NAACP surrender its membership lists. The NAACP argued –correctly, given the times– that this loss of their members’ privacy would have a chilling affect on their members rights of free speech and free association.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Efficient as ever, Hillary Clinton attacks 1st and 2nd amendments in one sentence

June 18, 2014

liberal tolerance

Hey, why only gut one amendment in the Bill of Rights when you can trash two at the same time? It’s a progressive win-win!

During a televised town hall, Hillary Clinton was asked about guns, and said that the viewpoint held by gun-rights advocates “terrorizes” the majority of Americans.

The town hall, broadcast live on CNN on Tuesday, closely resembled a commercial for Clinton’s new memoir, “Hard Choices.”

(…)

“We cannot let a minority of people – and that’s what it is, it is a minority of people – hold a viewpoint that terrorizes the majority of people,” said Clinton.

Get that? Not only are you allowed to own firearms only at the sufferance of the State, but you are not even allowed to hold a point of view that differs from the majority opinion, presumably as long as that majority happens to agree with the progressive statist position.

And “terrorizes?” Really, Hillary? I’m not allowed to hold the opinion that the natural right to self-defense allows me and all other Americans to arm ourselves and that the Bill of Rights recognizes that unalienable right against government power, because said opinion might make your neighbors in Chappaqua get the vapors? How weird. In all my reading about the American Founding and our constitutional settlement, I never ran across the part that talked about how we have free speech as long as it isn’t scary. I don’t recall Voltaire saying “I disagree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it, as long as it does not offend the majority.”

Hey, Hillary? What about other minorities? Blacks in the 1950s and 1960s were of the opinion that they held the same natural and civil rights as other Americans and loudly demonstrated to demand those rights be honored. That surely scared the majority Whites at the time, so should Blacks have not been allowed to hold those opinions? I’m curious for your thoughts on the matter.

File this away for 2016, folks, should Lady Macbeth decide to run: it is the opinion of a leading candidate for President of the United States, who swears an oath to uphold, protect, and defend the Constitution —including the Bill of Rights— that you are only allowed to express your own opinions as long as most people are comfortable with them.

Comforting, isn’t it?

h/t Bryan Preston

PS: Hillary is no outlier for her party: just the other day, President Obama was praising Australia’s draconian gun confiscation law. The simple truth is that the Left approves of the Constitution only when it is convenient to them.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


The Democrats’ anti-constitutional constitutional amendment. Updated

May 19, 2014
"Senate Grinch"

Hates free speech

Upset by court rulings that, in effect, declare that “free speech” really means free speech, Senator Mark Udall (D-CO) introduced a constitutional amendment granting Congress sweeping powers to regulate campaign expenditures, both monetary and “in kind.” This amendment has the full support of Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV):

“The shadowy Koch brothers are attempting… a hostile takeover of American democracy,” Reid charged Thursday. “No one should be able to pump unlimited funds into a political campaign.”

Reid urged his fellow lawmakers to support a proposed constitutional amendment, written by Democratic Sen. Tom Udall and co-sponsored by 40 of the Senate’s 55 Democrats, that would give Congress the right to regulate all political contributions and all spending of any kind in all federal elections. (It would also give states the power to do the same in state elections.) The Supreme Court has held such far-reaching restrictions to be unconstitutional, which is why Reid wants to take the extreme step of changing the nation’s founding document.

“Amending our Constitution is not something we take lightly,” Reid said. “But the flood of special interest money into our American democracy is one of the greatest threats our system of government has ever faced.”

You know, I fully expect Reid to soon start ranting about strawberries. But, back to the Left’s latest assault on free speech, here’s the key excerpt from the proposed amendment:

Congress shall have power to regulate the raising and spending of money and in-kind equivalents with respect to federal elections, including setting limits on (1) the amount of contributions to candidates for nomination for election to, or for election to, federal office, and (2) the amount of funds that may be spent by, in support of, or in opposition to such candidates.

Byron York is right, of course: this amendment has no chance of passing the Senate and House, where two-thirds votes are needed, nor has it any chance of being approved by three-fourths of the state legislatures. It’s another attempt to find an issue that will get their base voters excited for the coming election and distract from the rolling Obamacare disaster by invoking two great liberal demons — the Koch brothers (1) and the Citizens United decision.

What is disturbing, however, is Reid and the Democrats’ willingness to put themselves on record as willing to curb our fundamental freedoms, free speech being a natural, unalienable right, in pursuit of short-term electoral goals. It’s emblematic of progressivism, which sees the Constitution as obsolete, and of the Democrats’ predilection for putting their narrow electoral interests ahead of the nation’s well-being — for instance, undercutting American forces even before they enter battle in order to oppose a Republican president. It’s not new, however; we’ve seen plenty of examples in recent years of anti-democratic Democrats, such as former Governor Perdue of North Carolina suggesting that congressional elections be delayed, something not even done during the Civil War, largely because her party was set to do poorly.

It’s not that this amendment would be unconstitutional –by the nature of the process, ratification would make it part of the Constitution and therefore “constitutional”– but its very nature is profoundly and disturbingly anti-constitutional, striking at the concepts of natural rights that are foundational to the Republic. Political speech must be free to have any meaning at all, and that includes expressing your political opinions by donating money and time or other property to further a cause or support a candidate. That the Democrats would think of attacking this fundamental freedom in order to excite their base speaks of a deep rot within their party (2), something that should concern us all.

PS: Take a look at this list of the biggest donors since 1989, and note a couple of things: first, 11 of the top 16 at least lean Democratic. You don’t find one that leans Republican until number 17. And the evil Koch brothers, whom Harry Reid denounces daily like Cato demanding the destruction of Carthage, only place 59th on the list. That alone reveals the vile cynicism of his bleatings: the Majority Leader of the United States Senate by name demagoguing against two American citizens, regardless of the truth. Second, the proposed amendment would require statutes passed by Congress to be implemented. Take a good look again at that donor list: unions and other groups have donated tens of millions to the Democrats, with unions also providing invaluable in-kind donations in the form of campaign volunteers. Does anyone think the Democrats, given half a chance, wouldn’t write implementing legislation that somehow allowed these groups to keep right on helping Democrats? If so, raise your hand; I have a bridge to sell you.

Footnotes:
(1) A pair of libertarian billionaires who are apparently plotting to take over the government with the horrifying goal of leaving us alone. Where do I sign up?
(2) Not that I wholly excuse Republicans. John McCain’s sponsorship of the hateful McCain-Feingold bill revealed him as a constitutional lightweight.

UPDATE: National Review’s Charles Cooke wrote about this a few days and had the following to say:

The move is the final act of a contrived and hamfisted morality play, whose purpose is to cast the Democratic party and its allies as champions of the people and the Kochs as a proxy for all that ails America. Lofty as its broader goal may seek to be, the whole endeavor nevertheless carries with it the ugly smack of the Bill of Attainder — of a change to the nation’s constitutional settlement that serves largely to punish two people that the man with the gavel disdains. Rambling in the general direction of a BuzzFeed reporter earlier this week, Reid inadvertently revealed something about his motivations. His reelection to the Senate in 1998, he griped, “was awful”: “I won it, but just barely. I felt it was corrupting, all this corporate money.” Translation: I almost lost my seat once, so I need the supreme law to protect me. Corruption, schmorruption. This is about power.

Do read the whole thing.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


You’re not paranoid if they really are out to get you, @SharylAttkisson

June 14, 2013

A few weeks ago, I mentioned CBS reporter Sharyl Attkisson’s strong suspicions that her home and work computers had been accessed by unknown persons. Coming in the wake of revelations about the government’s seizure of phone records for journalists and editors at the Associated Press and a secret warrant for phone records and email belonging to Fox reporter James Rosen charging him with being an unindicted co-conspirator under the Espionage Act of 1917, Attkisson’s accusations couldn’t be dismissed as paranoia or mere attention-seeking.

In fact, she was right:

“A cyber security firm hired by CBS News has determined through forensic analysis that Sharyl Attkisson’s computer was accessed by an unauthorized, external, unknown party on multiple occasions late in 2012. Evidence suggests this party performed all access remotely using Attkisson’s accounts. While no malicious code was found, forensic analysis revealed an intruder had executed commands that appeared to involve search and exfiltration of data.

This party also used sophisticated methods to remove all possible indications of unauthorized activity, and alter system times to cause further confusion.

CBS News is taking steps to identify the responsible party and their method of access.”

Now, as an expert contacted by the Post’s Erik Wemple points out, this doesn’t necessarily mean it was the government:

Eugene H. Spafford, a Purdue University professor and specialist in computer security, said that Attkisson’s initial statements about computer intrusions left open a wide field of possibilities, from viruses to botnet activity to acquaintances to criminal gangs to the government. 

And an investigative reporter as determined as Attkisson, who’s looked into many sensitive topics –such as Fast and Furious… hmmm…–  could well have alarmed many different types of people who might want to find out what she knows, who she’s talking to, etc.

But, in late 2012, Attkisson was writing a series of articles on the Benghazi massacre that weren’t toeing the government line. Indeed, she was asking some tough questions, especially about the lack of a military rescue mission:

CBS News has been told that, hours after the attack began, an unmanned Predator drone was sent over the U.S. mission in Benghazi, and that the drone and other reconnaissance aircraft apparently observed the final hours of the protracted battle.

The State Department, White House and Pentagon declined to say what military options were available. A White House official told CBS News that, at the start of the attack, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Martin Dempsey and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta “looked at available options, and the ones we exercised had our military forces arrive in less than 24 hours, well ahead of timelines laid out in established policies.”

But it was too late to help the Americans in Benghazi. The ambassador and three others were dead.

(hat tip: Ed Morrissey for the reminder of this)

That highlighted paragraph indicates anonymous sources. And if the government was forcing access to James Rosen’s phone records and emails (and his parents’ emails), and CBS was talking to anonymous sources giving out information embarrassing to the Obama administration, then it’s not at all hard to look at the break-in into Attkisson’s computers and wonder if something similar happened here.

It will be interesting to see what CBS discovers, and I suspect the relevant committee’s of Congress will have even more work when they do find out who was behind it.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Tales of the #Thugocracy: Oh, so that’s why they raided Gibson Guitar

May 26, 2013
"Nice business you got here..."

“Nice business you got here…”

You might recall a bizarre federal raid on legendary guitar manufacturer Gibson Guitar back in 2011: they were accused of importing illegally harvested wood from India and Madagascar under a century-old law. The feds showed up with automatic weapons, seized “evidence,” and generally disrupted operations to Gibson’s great cost. After all that, no criminal charges were filed, but Gibson had to agree to pay a $300,000 fine and toss $50,000 to an environmental group as penance for being “careless.”

Weird, right? Why all this attention to Gibson, when rival Martin & Co. used the very same “illegal” wood, yet wasn’t raided?

And, just like that, a light goes on:

Grossly underreported at the time was the fact that Gibson’s chief executive, Henry Juszkiewicz, contributed to Republican politicians. Recent donations have included $2,000 to Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., and $1,500 to Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn.

By contrast, Chris Martin IV, the Martin & Co. CEO, is a long-time Democratic supporter, with $35,400 in contributions to Democratic candidates and the Democratic National Committee over the past couple of election cycles.

What would have seemed like a crazy conspiracy theory straight out of the fever swamps just a year ago now looks all too plausible, after the IRS scandal and the news that the Obama people had been targeting conservatives since 2008.

The message here to Mr. Juszkiewicz and people like him is crystal clear: “Thinking about making a political donation? Maybe you should think again.

“First Amendment?” What’s that?

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Tyrant Governor of New York will not tolerate dissent from his underling sheriffs

May 25, 2013

Who does this guy think he is, Mike Bloomberg? Angered by county sheriffs opposed to the draconian gun law the Governor recently rammed through the legislature, Andrew Cuomo has evidently threatened to use a rarely invoked power to remove dissident sheriffs from office:

Opposition to the new law has simmered in upstate areas since Cuomo signed the law in January. Many county sheriffs oppose it, particularly its expanded definition of banned assault weapons, and have spoken out around the state. In January, the New York State Sheriffs’ Association wrote Cuomo with an analysis, and later suggested tweaks.

Cuomo invited its leaders to the Capitol last month, people briefed on the meeting said. The group included Sheriffs’ Association Executive Director Peter Kehoe and Chemung County Sheriff Christopher Moss.
“We didn’t get a response (to the analysis) from him, but we could tell after the budget was passed that none of those recommendations were taken into consideration,” Moss said. “When we got there, we never got to the contents of the letter.”

Instead, Cuomo pushed the sheriffs to stop publicly speaking out against the act, Moss said.

“The governor was of the opinion that the sheriffs around the state should not be interjecting their personal opinions in reference to the law,” Moss said, adding that Cuomo said sheriffs can’t do that and enforce the law.

One person briefed on the meeting said Cuomo threatened to remove sheriffs from office, a little-used power afforded the state’s chief executive under the state constitution. Moss would not confirm this. He did say the meeting was heated at times, but overall he described it as “cordial.”

It’s one thing to use this power to remove a corrupt sheriff, or one unable to continue in his job because of health. But, to use it to bludgeon into silence men sworn to uphold the law and the state and federal constitutions, and who themselves have the right of free speech? I think that’s called “tyranny.” Somewhere, Hugo Chavez nods in approval.

Via Bryan Preston, who’s right: this has a lot in common with the scandals coming out of the Obama administration, for both represent abuses of power and the authoritarian heart of progressivism.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


#WarOnJournalism: Who’s been snooping in Sharyl Attkisson’s computers?

May 21, 2013

Hmmm… Maybe FOX’s James Rosen and the AP aren’t the only targets of the White House’s ire? Here’s a radio interview CBS’ Sharyl Attkisson did with WPHT’s Chris Stigall in which she mentions unknown parties have accessed her home and work computers since February, 2011:

You’ll recall that both my blog-buddy ST and I have mentioned Attkisson several times on our blogs for being one of the few remaining MSM reporters actually willing to hold the administration to account for their actions, Fast & Furious and Benghazi being the most notable. She so got under their skin that, as Allahpundit reminds us, a DoJ official screamed and cursed at her over the phone. Attkisson herself has recently said that she has been shut out by her White House sources. There have been rumors (1) that David Rhodes, president of CBS News  and brother of Ben Rhodes, a would-be fiction writer and now an Obama national security deeply involved in Benghazi, might fire Attkisson for being too aggressive in her coverage of the White House… where his brother works.

Keep in mind that the DoJ got access to James Rosen’s GMail account by affirming to a judge that they believed he was engaged in a criminal conspiracy to violate the Espionage Act, and then got a court order forbidding Google from telling Rosen of the access. And now we hear that somebody has been accessing Attkisson’s computers.

What was going on in February 2011? The Fast and Furious scandal, having been rumored for months, was finally breaking into the mainstream news, and Attkisson was filing stories that weren’t settling for administration spin.

And about that same time, she gets hacked.

What. A. Coincidence.

Footnote:
(1) Attkisson has said there has been no pressure from any CBS News executive regarding her Benghazi reporting.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


#IRS scandal: Democrats make clear where they stand on the 1st Amendment

May 16, 2013

Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) introduced a resolution condemning the Internal Revenue Service for trampling the Constitutional rights of Americans. (For example) It didn’t get very far:

Today, Senate Democrats placed a hold on Sen. Rand Paul’s recent resolution that condemns the targeting of Tea Party groups by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and calls for an investigation into this practice.

“This resolution is not about Republican vs. Democrat or conservative vs. liberal. It is about arrogant and unrestrained government vs. the rule of law. The First Amendment cannot and should not be renegotiated depending on which party holds power,” Sen. Paul said. “Each senator took an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution, yet Senate Democrats chose to block my resolution and thus refused to condemn the IRS for trampling on our First Amendment rights. I am incredibly disappointed in Washington’s party politics and I am determined to hold the IRS accountable for these unjust acts.”

I’m not sure why anyone would find this surprising: as the party of arrogant, unrestrained government, the leaders of which think the Constitution is obsolete, well, of course they would shoot this resolution down.

It threatens their very reason for existence, after all.

via Stephen Green.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


#IRS scandal: Granting tax-exempt status to pro-life groups *if* they agree not to protest Planned Parenthood

May 15, 2013

But they’re absolutely, totally, without a doubt non-political. And don’t you dare say otherwise, wingnut!

IRS officials refused to grant tax exempt status two pro-life organizations because of their position on the abortion issue, according to a non-profit law firm, which said that one group was pressured not to protest a pro-choice organization that endorsed President Obama during the last election.

“In one case, the IRS withheld approval of an application for tax exempt status for Coalition for Life of Iowa. In a phone call to Coalition for Life of Iowa leaders on June 6, 2009, the IRS agent ‘Ms. Richards’ told the group to send a letter to the IRS with the entire board’s signatures stating that, under perjury of the law, they do not picket/protest or organize groups to picket or protest outside of Planned Parenthood,” the Thomas More Society announced today. “Once the IRS received this letter, their application would be approved.”

Planned Parenthood endorsed Obama in 2008 and 2012.

The article also mentions a Texas pro-life group that had its free speech rights roughed up, too.

With new revelations of IRS abuse coming out seemingly hourly, this would be almost comical if it weren’t for the serious constitutional, legal, and political implications.  Granting tax-exempt status only if they promise not to exercise their First Amendment rights?? Can these morons in IRS really have been so blind as to not see what a bright red line they were crossing? (Or did they think it was an “Obama red line,” and therefore meaningless?)

And let’s not even start with why the press wasn’t asking about these rumors in 2010-2012… smiley angry

via Kevin Eder.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Liberals just don’t like what the Founders did, do they?

February 16, 2012

A little while back, I featured Justice Ginsburg opining that the US Constitution really wasn’t a suitable model for the modern age.

Now we have a Washington Post editor wondering if, perhaps, the first Congress got it wrong when it guaranteed the free exercise of religion in the First Amendment:

That‘s what Washington Post editor Melinda Henneberger told MSNBC’s Chris Matthews last night while defending Catholics. Here’s the full quote:

“Maybe the Founders were wrong to guarantee free exercise of religion in the First Amendment but that is what they did and I don’t think we have to choose here.”

And maybe they made a mistake guaranteeing free speech, too; otherwise we’d be able to punish dolts like Henneberger for saying such stupid things. And that whole trial by jury thing; it just gets in the way of government enforcing the law to protect us.

Head, meet wall.

Former federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy spots several problems with Henneberger’s proposition, the foremost being the centrality of freedom of religious expression to the Colonial experience and the foundation of the United States, itself:

First, there is the sheer unreality of it. As someone of Ms. Henneberger’s sophistication must know, the Founders cannot have been wrong to guarantee free exercise of religion. Had they failed to do so, there would have been no nation to found. Free exercise was a deal-breaker for Americans, and the adoption of the Bill of Rights (in which free-exercise was among the core of individual liberties that had to be specified) was a deal breaker for skeptics in several states who believed the Constitution transferred too much power to the federal government.

(Emphasis added.)

In other words, the new HHS rule regarding insurance coverage for contraception and abortifacients at religious institutions is exactly and precisely the kind of tyrannical and oppressive act regarding the free exercise of religion those who argued for a Bill of Rights had in mind, even if it’s presented as a “public good.”

They weren’t wrong, Melinda, they were prescient.

RELATED: Getting back to Justice Ginsburg and the outdated Constitution, historian Steven Hayward figured out why she seemed so enamored of the South African constitution:

The South African constitution is equally watery.  Yes, it does include an independent judiciary and a long list of positive rights.  Then there’s this:

“When interpreting the Bill of Rights, a court, tribunal or forum must promote the values that underlie an open and democratic society based on human dignity, equality and freedom; must consider international law; and may consider foreign law.”

No wonder Ginsburg likes it so much: it more or less gives judges a blank check to look anywhere they want to reach any result they want.

So much more fun that sticking by our stodgy old rules, no?

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


A big victory for free speech

July 21, 2010

A rare bit of great news out of Congress: the Senate has unanimously passed a bill protecting Americans against libel judgments rendered in countries that don’t have our protections for free speech:

On July 19, 2010, the U.S. Senate Senate passed the Bipartisan HR 2765 (as amended by the Leahy-Sessions SPEECH Act) by Unanimous Consent. The House of Representatives, which already passed HR 2765 introduced by Congressman Steve Cohen (D-TN) by 433-2, has indicated that it will pass the same bill within days.

The bill was introduced by the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) and Ranking Member Senator Jeff Session (R-Alabama). The legislation is cosponsored by Senator Arlen Specter (D-Pennsylvania), Senator Chuck Schumer (D-New York) and Senator Joe Lieberman (I-Connecticut).

At the vote, Senator Leahy noted: “I would like to recognize Dr. Rachel Ehrenfeld, Director of the American Center for Democracy, who herself has been the victim of a libel suit in the United Kingdom, and has been a tremendous advocate for Congressional action in this area.”

The SPEECH Act will uphold First Amendment protections for American free expression by guarding American authors and publishers from the enforcement of frivolous foreign libel suits, filed in countries that do not have our strong free speech protections. Such lawsuits are often used by “libel-tourists” in an effort to suppress the rights of American scholars, writers, and journalists to speak, write and publish freely in print and on the Internet.

The Act grants “a cause of action for declaratory judgment relief against a party who has brought a successful foreign defamation action whose judgment undermines the First Amendment,” and provides for legal fees. These measures will help diminish the severe chilling effect such suits have already had on journalists, researchers, the general media, particularly on matters of national security and public safety.

“The freedoms of speech and the press are cornerstones of our democracy,” said Senator Leahy.  ”They enable vigorous debate, and an exchange of ideas that shapes our political process.  Foreign libel lawsuits are undermining this informational exchange. While we cannot legislate changes to foreign law that are chilling protected speech in our country, we can ensure that our courts do not become a tool to uphold foreign libel judgments that undermine American First Amendment or due process rights.  The SPEECH Act is an important step in putting a stop to this chilling of American free speech.”

Cultural jihadis and terror supporters have regularly used the libel laws of other countries, especially Britain, to attack authors critical of Islam and the jihad against the West. The phenomenon is called libel tourism and is itself a form of terrorism. My congratulations and thanks to the senators of all parties for raising a shield to protect our 1st Amendment rights.

On July 19, 2010, the U.S. Senate Senate passed the Bipartisan HR 2765 (as amended by the Leahy-Sessions SPEECH Act) by Unanimous Consent. The House of Representatives, which already passed HR 2765 introduced by Congressman Steve Cohen (D-TN) by 433-2, has indicated that it will pass the same bill within days.

Unclear on the concept, 1st amendment edition

May 31, 2010

We revere free speech in the United States, rightly considering it one of the essential liberties of a free people. In fact, we consider it so important that our ancestors made the protection of free speech a part of the Bill of Rights:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

(Emphasis added)

So, I have to ask, what part of “no law … abridging” does Michigan State Senator Bruce Patterson not understand?

A Michigan lawmaker wants to license reporters to ensure they’re credible and vet them for “good moral character.”

Senator Bruce Patterson is introducing legislation that will regulate reporters much like the state does with hairdressers, auto mechanics and plumbers. Patterson, who also practices constitutional law, says that the general public is being overwhelmed by an increasing number of media outlets–traditional, online and citizen generated–and an even greater amount misinformation.

“Legitimate media sources are critically important to our government,” he said.

He told FoxNews.com that some reporters covering state politics don’t know what they’re talking about and they’re working for publications he’s never heard of, so he wants to install a process that’ll help him and the general public figure out which reporters to trust.

“We have to be able to get good information,” he said. “We have to be able to rely on the source and to understand the credentials of the source.”

There’s a face-palm moment in almost every paragraph. Does it not occur to the esteemed senator that giving government, over which the press exercises a watchdog function, the power to decide which is a legitimate source of information and which isn’t might have a bit of a chilling effect on that same free press? If you say or write the wrong thing, do you lose your license? And how has that “licensed journalism” thing worked out in, say, Cuba, Senator?

Patterson’s bill, for which he can find no co-sponsors (It seems some pols still have a sense of shame), would impose the following requirements:

According to the bill, reporters must provide the licensing board proof of:

  • “Good moral character” and demonstrate they have industry “ethics standards acceptable to the board.”
  • Possession of a degree in journalism or other degree substantially equivalent.
  • Not less than 3 years experience as a reporter or any other relevant background information.
  • Awards or recognition related to being a reporter.
  • Three or more writing samples.

The article goes on to say registration with the state would be voluntary and that no one would be barred from acting as a journalist in Michigan without a license, but, come on. Inevitably, some schmuck legislator who’s mad at the press would want to make registration a requirement “for the public good.” And the very act of registration almost certainly will create a legitimate/illegitimate distinction in the mind of the public that in turn will put pressure on journalists (staff or independent)  to submit to licensing in order to maintain credibility.

Even if this doesn’t violate the letter of the 1st Amendment, it sure as the Devil goes against its spirit. And this guy practices constitutional law? Between him and con-law professor Barack Obama, maybe we should consider licensing constitutional lawyers, instead.

Really, Senator, I think the good people of Michigan are smart enough to decide what is a legitimate news source and what isn’t without the state’s help.

(via Big Journalism)