ICYMI: Sen. Cruz Objects to Democrats Attempt to Repeal Free Speech Protections
September 9, 2014
WASHINGTON, DC -- U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, today spoke on the Senate floor in opposition to the bill Democrats introduced earlier this week to amend the free speech provisions of the First Amendment.
“If this proposal were to pass, its effects would be breathtaking. It would be the most massive intrusion on civil liberties and expansion of federal government power in modern times, Sen. Cruz said. “According to our Democratic friends, the new First Amendment would regulate the raising and spending of money by candidates and others to influence elections. The First Amendment is not about ‘reasonable’ speech. The idea that elected politicians would seek to arrogate power to themselves to censor the citizens is an anathema to who we are as a country.”
In his remarks, Sen. Cruz asked, should Congress have the power to ban movies, to ban books, or to ban organizations from speaking about politics? He argued that this amendment will destroy the free speech protections enshrined in the First Amendment by limiting individuals, corporations, and citizen groups’ free speech while insulating politicians from the very criticism that has always been essential to democracy.
If passed, Congress could have the power to ban corporations like Paramount Pictures from producing movies speaking about politics, similar to what the Obama administration attempted to prohibit in Citizens United. Congress could have the power to ban books, like Simon & Schuster’ newly published book by Hilary Clinton, “Hard Choices.”
Additionally, Sen. Cruz noted that both conservative and liberal organizations could be halted. For instance, Congress could prohibit the NAACP or the National Rifle Association from distributing voter guides. Congress could prohibit the Sierra Club and Greenpeace from running political ads criticizing politicians for their environmental policies. Congress could penalize pro-life or pro-choice groups for spending money to urge their views of abortion. Or Congress could ban the New York Times from publishing opinion pieces supporting or opposing a politician’s views.
Sen. Cruz concluded, “We have not seen a single Democrat have the courage to speak out against this abominable provision. There was a time not long ago when there was bipartisan agreement on questions of civil liberties. In 1997, Democrats attempted a similar amendment, and that lion of the Left Ted Kennedy stood up and said, ‘In the entire history of the Constitution we have never amended the Bill of Rights, and now is not the time to start.’ Where are the Ted Kennedys? When did Democrats abandon the Bill of Rights? When did Democrats abandon civil liberties?”
The ACLU has published two letters standing with Sen. Cruz and stating that the Democrats’ proposed amendment would “fundamentally break the Constitution, and endanger civil rights and civil liberties for generations.”
Previously this year, Sen. Cruz introduced the SuperPAC Elimination Act of 2014 and the Free All Speech Act to protect all citizens’ free speech:
- The SuperPAC Elimination Act of 2014 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 Free All Speech Act would require that all restrictions on political speech that apply to individuals also apply to media corporations. Additionally, if legislation is unconstitutional as applied to media corporations, it shall carry no force as applied to individuals.