Archive for the ‘First Amendment’ Category
I’ve believed that John Chisholm, the Milwaukee County District Attorney, was a vindictive partisan prosecutor long before George Will wrote this column. Will’s column chief contribution is that it focuses attention on several key points that should receive additional highlighting. Here’s one such point:
The early-morning paramilitary-style raids on citizens’ homes were conducted by law enforcement officers, sometimes wearing bulletproof vests and lugging battering rams, pounding on doors and issuing threats. Spouses were separated as the police seized computers, including those of children still in pajamas. Clothes drawers, including the children’s, were ransacked, cellphones were confiscated and the citizens were told that it would be a crime to tell anyone of the raids.
Some raids were precursors of, others were parts of, the nastiest episode of this unlovely political season, an episode that has occurred in an unlikely place. This attempted criminalization of politics to silence people occupying just one portion of the political spectrum has happened in Wisconsin, which often has conducted robust political arguments with Midwestern civility.
That’s what the threats and intimidation wing of the Democratic Party looks like. John Chisholm is a thug with institutionalized authority to ruin innocent people’s lives. He’s the ‘leader’ of the Wisconsin chapter of the Democratic Party’s threats and intimidation wing.
In collaboration with Wisconsin’s misbegotten Government Accountability Board, which exists to regulate political speech, Chisholm has misinterpreted Wisconsin campaign law in a way that looks willful. He has done so to justify a “John Doe” process that has searched for evidence of “coordination” between Walker’s campaign and conservative issue advocacy groups.
On Oct. 14, much too late in the campaign season to rescue the political-participation rights of conservative groups, a federal judge affirmed what Chisholm surely has known all along: Since a U.S. Supreme Court ruling 38 years ago, the only coordination that is forbidden is between candidates and independent groups that go beyond issue advocacy to “express advocacy”, explicitly advocating the election or defeat of a particular candidate.
Why Wisconsin ever passed these John Doe laws is inexplicable. It’s authority to start a fishing expedition, something that’s contrary to the principles of probable cause and the Fourth Amendment’s protections against unreasonable searches and seizures. Chisholm’s goal might’ve already been achieved:
But Chisholm’s aim, to have a chilling effect on conservative speech, has been achieved by bombarding Walker supporters with raids and subpoenas: Instead of raising money to disseminate their political speech, conservative individuals and groups, harassed and intimidated, have gone into a defensive crouch, raising little money and spending much money on defensive litigation. Liberal groups have not been targeted for their activities that are indistinguishable from those of their conservative counterparts.
I’ve written before about weaponized government. Chisholm’s investigation (I hate using that term in this context) fits that description perfectly. It’s the personification of weaponized government.
It’s worth noting this sentence:
Liberal groups have not been targeted for their activities that are indistinguishable from those of their conservative counterparts.
I’ve seen nasty forms of weaponized government but this is the nastiest form of it. Law enforcement officials participating in this should be investigated, too. Their actions furthered this unconstitutional exercise of abusive government. Hans Spakovsky’s op-ed nails it:
Oral arguments were heard Tuesday before the 7th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in O’Keefe vs. Chisholm, the so-called John Doe investigation in which local prosecutors in Wisconsin tried to criminalize political speech and activity on public issues. The 7th Circuit should uphold the lower court decision halting this Star Chamber investigation that violated basic First Amendment rights.
The fact that such a secret persecution of citizen advocacy organizations even occurred ought to be an embarrassment to a state that prides itself on being a progressive bastion of individual freedom. It is more reminiscent of a banana republic than the world’s foremost democracy.
Chisholm should be disbarred for intentionally violating private citizens’ civil rights. Then he should be tried and, hopefully, be convicted, then incarcerated for many years. He’s a nasty person helping the Democratic Party chill political speech. Saying that his actions are intimidating and that his tactics are the type that would be approved of by Joe McCarthy is understatement.
Technorati: John Chisholm, John Doe Investigation, Chilling Effect, Threats and Intimidation, Censorship, McCarthyism, Fourth Amendment, First Amendment, Civil Rights, O’Keefe v. Chisholm, Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, Democratic Culture of Corruption, Election 2014
When the city of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho passed a non-discrimination ordinance, they opened up a nasty First Amendment can of worms:
Two Christian ministers who own an Idaho wedding chapel were told they had to either perform same-sex weddings or face jail time and up to a $1,000 fine, according to a lawsuit filed Friday in federal court. Alliance Defending Freedom is representing Donald and Evelyn Knapp, ordained ministers who own the Hitching Post Wedding Chapel in Coeur d’Alene.
“Right now they are at risk of being prosecuted,” their ADF attorney, Jeremy Tedesco, told me. “The threat of enforcement is more than just credible.”
According to the lawsuit, the wedding chapel is registered with the state as a “religious corporation” limited to performing “one-man-one-woman marriages as defined by the Holy Bible.” But the chapel is also registered as a for-profit business, not as a church or place of worship, and city officials said that means the owners must comply with a local nondiscrimination ordinance.
It’s difficult seeing this ordinance passing constitutional scrutiny by a real court. It was upheld by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The next step will be to the Supreme Court. The First Amendment doesn’t just protect citizens, as we learned in this summer’s Hobby Lobby ruling.
I suspect that this is just another attempt to strike down that ruling.
Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, told me it’s “open season on Americans who refuse to bow to the government’s redefinition of marriage. Americans are witnesses to the reality that redefining marriage is less about the marriage altar and more about fundamentally altering the freedoms of the other 98 percent of Americans,” Perkins said.
Governments, whether they’re local governments or the federal government, don’t have the authority to tell religious institutions what they must do. That’s what Coeur d’Alene is attempting to do. Their city attorney, Warren Wilson, apparently isn’t that schooled in constitutional law.
Thankfully, the Knapps are standing their ground, with assistance from the Alliance Defending Freedom and the Family Research Council. It’s important that government not have the authority to tell people how they can practice their faith. That’s a major reason why people left Europe. It’s important that we fight against being returned to European-style governance.
During his interview with Esme Murphy, Rick Nolan reiterated his support for overturning the Supreme Court’s ruling in the Citizens United vs. the FEC lawsuit:
The Supreme Court ruled against BCRA, aka McCain-Feingold:
Independent Expenditures by Corporations
The Court overruled Austin, striking down § 441b’s ban on corporate independent expenditures. It also struck down the part of McConnell that upheld BCRA § 203’s extension of § 441b’s restrictions on independent corporate expenditures. The Court held that the “government may not suppress political speech on the basis of the speaker’s corporate identity. No sufficient governmental interest justifies limits on the political speech of nonprofit or for-profit corporations.” An analysis of this holding follows.
As Applied Challenge. First, the Court held that the case could not be resolved on an as applied basis without chilling political speech. Under an “as applied” challenge, the Court’s review of the law’s constitutionality is limited to the set of facts in the case before it. The Court therefore broadened the case from Citizens United’s initial narrower arguments, focusing only on Hillary, to reconsider both the validity of its prior decisions in Austin and McConnell and the facial validity of § 441b.
In reaching this decision, the Court reasoned that among other things:
1. Citizen United’s narrower arguments, including that Hillary is not an “electioneering communication,” are not sustainable under a fair reading of § 441b, and
2. it must therefore consider the statute’s facial validity or risk prolonging its substantial chilling effect.
The First Amendment’s protections apply to all political speech. The argument that ‘corporations aren’t people’ is laughable at best. Nowhere in the First Amendment does it say that the First Amendment protects only individuals. Does the Fourth Amendment protect only individuals from unreasonable searches and seizures? Of course it doesn’t.
But I digress.
Nolan said that he’s “the lead sponsor of new legislation in Washington to reverse Citizens United.” That means, according to the Supreme Court’s ruling, Nolan wants to reverse the chilling effect McCain-Feingold had on political speech. For those asking why that’s a bad thing, I’ll answer with a question. Do you want the government to say what’s acceptable speech and what isn’t? Before answering that question, think about this: Lois Lerner “served as associate general counsel and head of the enforcement office at the FEC“:
One of Lerner’s former colleagues tells National Review Online that her political ideology was evident during her tenure at the FEC, where, he says, she routinely subjected groups seeking to expand the influence of money in politics, including, in her view, conservatives and Republicans, to the sort of heightened scrutiny we now know they came under at the IRS.
Before the IRS, Lerner served as associate general counsel and head of the enforcement office at the FEC, which she joined in 1986. Working under FEC general counsel Lawrence Noble, Lerner drafted legal recommendations to the agency’s commissioners intended to guide their actions on the complaints brought before them.
Isn’t it frightening that a corrupt bureaucrat like Lois Lerner could be the final arbiter of what’s acceptable speech and what isn’t? If Nolan’s legislation passed, it’s possible a corrupt, hyperpartisan bureaucrat could determine which speech is acceptable and what speech isn’t.
Nolan’s legislation would make it illegal for unions to advocate for their endorsed candidates. Nolan’s legislation might be used to shut down ABM, Nancy Pelosi’s superPAC and the DCCC. Is that what Nolan wants?
I’d bet it isn’t. He’s been silent while the DCCC ran its disgusting ads. He’s been silent while Nancy Pelosi’s superPAC ran disgustingly dishonest ads. Apparently, Nolan only opposes money in politics when he’s in front of a camera. That isn’t a principled position. It’s a political position.
I know it isn’t the highest hurdle ever constructed but it’s apparent that some citizens are smarter than Sen. Franken when it comes to the Bill of Rights. Here’s proof:
“Congress and the states may regulate and set reasonable limits on the raising and spending of money by candidates and others to influence elections.” This is a proposed constitutional amendment Sen. Al Franken supports along with 47 other Democratic senators. Hopefully in one of his remaining debates he will explain his reasoning for supporting this amendment and why incumbent congressmen like himself should be entrusted to set “reasonable limits.” Perhaps Democrats think we shouldn’t be exposed to too many ideas. It’s ironic his party supports such an amendment since the Democratic Party is far outspending the GOP in this year’s mid-term election.
This LTE hits the nail on the head in highlighting the silliness of thinking anyone in Washington, DC is capable of setting “reasonable limits” on fundraising spending during campaigns. To quote the great economist and philosopher Milton Friedman during his interview with Phil Donahue, “Just where do you suppose we’re going to find these angels who are going to organize society for us? I don’t even trust you to do that.”
The notion that government bureaucrats always care about families or individuals rights is myth. The sooner that myth is demolished, the better. The thought that an incumbent will set up election rules that don’t favor the incumbent is foolhardy. Thinking that Al Franken, Harry Reid and Chuck Schumer are interested in playing fair is intellectually insulting.
Yes, raising and spending money can be used to influence opinions and elections. That is what free speech is supposed to do.
It’s a beautiful thing. Shouldn’t “the rich” have the right to express their political opinions? If not, why not?
Actually, that’s just a trap. Who made any of us the impartial arbiter of what’s acceptable political speech? Is any of us so virtuous that we’d trust ourselves with never showing partiality? If you think that of yourself, then you’re either lying through your teeth or you’ve got a higher opinion of yourself than you should have.
Al that aside, the fact is that Sen. Franken has shown he isn’t the impartial arbiter of what’s acceptable political speech and what isn’t. He’s signed his name to a letter telling the IRS to crank up their investigation against conservative organizations by saying that they were involved in something suspicious. What that suspicious thing was wasn’t identified in Sen. Schumer’s letter.
What’s interesting is that Sen. Franken wants to give politicians the right to tell people that think differently than him that the First Amendment doesn’t protect them like it protects people that think like him. After that, he’s essentially saying that we should trust him with the authority to unlevel the political playing field.
This op-ed in the Wall Street Journal should frighten civic-minded people of all political persuasions. It paints the picture of what hardline progressives specialize in:
Last year Wisconsin prosecutors—at the behest of Milwaukee’s Democratic District Attorney John Chisholm —launched a secret criminal investigation involving almost every conservative advocacy group in the state. Armed law-enforcement personnel executed pre-dawn searches of the homes of consultants for the Wisconsin Club for Growth. The organization had engaged in “issue advocacy”—running ads that do not call for the election or defeat of a candidate—both before and during the extended cycle of recall elections for state officials following Gov. Scott Walker’s collective-bargaining reforms in 2011. At the same time, subpoenas were directed to approximately 30 other conservative advocacy organizations and their bankers and accountants.
In other words, hardline leftists like John Chisholm perverted the criminal justice system for political purposes. Chisholm and his thugs had a goal to silence conservatives’ political speech. It looks like they accomplished that mission while chilling political speech.
That’s as un-American as it gets.
The investigation has been stopped by a preliminary injunction in O’Keefe v. Chisholm, and it is the subject of legal wrangling in state and federal courts, but if Mr. Chisholm’s efforts were politically motivated, then he can already claim victory. As midterm elections near, Wisconsin conservative groups have been sufficiently intimidated amid the uncertain legal climate, or their money has been so depleted by courtroom fights, that they are not the force in the state that they were in 2012.
Chisholm has won this part of the fight but he hasn’t won the war. What’s needed is an army of thoughtful people who put the Bill of Rights ahead of short-term political gains. If that army doesn’t exist, then Chisholm’s won the war, not just this fight.
When short-term political gains are more important than fighting for the Bill of Rights, we’ve passed the tipping point as a nation. It’s time to fight for the Bill of Rights. It’s time to momentarily put partisanship aside and focus on doing what’s right. Chilling political speech through the courts is abhorrent. Utilizing unconstitutional laws to chill political speech is disgusting.
It’s been said that people shouldn’t subscribe to conspiracy theories the things that can be explained by incompetence. This isn’t about incompetence. It’s a plan that Democrats utilize because they don’t like taking criticism. They’ve used the IRS to stifle conservatives’ political speech. Senate Democrats just attempted to gut the First Amendment. There’s nothing accidental about the Democrats’ campaign against the Bill of Rights.
Campaign-finance lawyers often say that the process is the punishment, and that has certainly been the case in Wisconsin. I have witnessed it first-hand as my organization, the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty, consults with many conservative advocacy groups across Wisconsin.
After the raids became public knowledge, the prosecutors claimed that they were investigating allegations that the Wisconsin Club for Growth and other groups had illegally “coordinated” their speech on political issues with Gov. Walker’s campaign in violation of the state’s baroque and often inscrutable campaign finance laws. The investigators seized sensitive and highly confidential records of a good part of the state’s conservative infrastructure.
When Chisholm is laughed out of his final court, which will happen, he’ll still have won because he will have silenced conservatives. Winning in court wasn’t part of his fascist agenda. Chisholm’s goal was to intimidate people into silence. That’s called censorship.
I don’t trust people being the arbiters of what’s acceptable political speech and what isn’t. That’s why I cheered when the Senate’s bill, predictably, went up in flames.
Al Franken and Sherrod Brown are just 2 of the Democratic senators that want to limit political speech. Truthfully, all 55 senators that caucus with the Democrats think that political speech should be regulated by the Senate. Here’s Sen. Brown’s latest attack on the First Amendment:
Where to start with Citizens United?
It’s brought unprecedented outside spending into our elections. It’s undercut the public’s faith in their elected officials. And it’s cowed Congress by putting a target on the back of any member who tries to stand up to special interests — like they did with me, when special interests spent $40 million against me in 2012.
Corporations are not people. The Declaration of Independence doesn’t say that “all corporations are created equal.” And there’s no good reason to pretend that corporations have the same rights as real, flesh-and-blood people.
But that’s exactly what Citizens United does, and in the process, it allows corporate cash to flood our elections and distract voters from issues that really matter.
Citizens United has done major damage to our democracy. Today, we start undoing that damage. Add your name to mine and demand an end to Citizens United.
First, I’d love hearing Sen. Brown, or Sen. Franken for that matter, explain where in the text of the First Amendment it says that corporations don’t have the right of political speech. Here’s the text of the First Amendment:
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 Founding Fathers meant for there to be robust debate of the issues. Notice, too, that they mentioned that “people”, not individuals, should have the right to peaceably assemble or petition their government “for a redress of grievances.”
Further, I’d love hearing Sens. Franken and Brown explain how a union is a group of individuals but a corporation isn’t a group of individuals.
The truth is that the Democrats’ attempt to amend the Constitution is all about election year politicking. The Democrats should be forced to explain why pro-Democrat political organizations should have the right to participate in the political process but pro-Republican organizations shouldn’t be allowed to participate in the political process. Finally, I’d love hearing Sens. Franken and Brown explain why incumbents should have the right to regulate anti-incumbent political speech. Why should I think incumbents are honest arbiters of what is and isn’t acceptable political speech?
Yesterday, I got an email alert about a lawsuit filed by the Center for Competitive Politics challenging the constitutionality of another provision of McCain-Feingold. Here’s the heart of the matter:
The Independence Institute wishes to run two ads: one asking Colorado Senators Mark Udall and Michael Bennett to support a federal sentencing reform bill, and one asking citizens to contact Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper and urge him to initiate an audit of the Colorado Health Benefit Exchange. The McCain-Feingold law, along with a similar state statute, effectively prevents the group from raising money for the ads.
“This situation shows the damage to free speech caused by carelessly written campaign finance laws,” said David Keating, president of CCP. “Instead of advocacy on an important public issue, there will be silence. That’s unacceptable under the First Amendment, and is the reason why we filed this lawsuit.”
Prior to the passage of Obamacare, McCain-Feingold was the worst legislation in the last half century. I can’t even say that the intent behind McCain-Feingold was good. Its effect was to protect incumbents while limiting political speech.
There’s nothing honorable about either thing.
Here’s what McCain-Feingold does to issue advocacy:
Colorado and federal law treat speech about public issues as campaign speech whenever a candidate is mentioned in a broadcast ad within 60 days of the general election. Groups must either file public reports with personal details about donors who have provided funds for the ads, or refrain from speaking. The result is what First Amendment advocates call a “chilling” effect on advocacy, depriving the public of important speech about issues of public importance.
Here’s why disclosure in these instances is frightening:
Donors and speakers have many reasons to protect their privacy. Some fear retaliation from government officials who disagree with them. Others fear physical harm or threats to themselves and their families, vandalism to their property, loss of jobs, or boycotts of their business if they support unpopular views.
Over half a century ago, the Supreme Court ruled in NAACP v. Alabama that not disclosing donors to issue advocacy groups was constitutionally protected. Imagine the fury that the KKK would’ve visited upon the people supporting the NAACP.
While the threats are different today, the threats are just as real. Instead of fearing the KKK, these days, issue advocacy groups have to worry about the Justice Department, the IRS and other agents representing weaponized government.
It’s time to eliminate another disgusting part of McCain-Feingold. The sooner it’s eliminated, the better.
Technorati: McCain-Feingold, Censorship, Issue Advocacy, NAACP v. Alabama, Supreme Court, Independence Institute, Center for Competitive Politics, Civil Rights, First Amendment, Weaponized Government, IRS, DOJ
Thanks to this article by the Wisconsin Reporter, conservatives can learn about the Democratic Party’s witch hunt machine. Anyone that thinks Democrats are nice people that conservatives simply disagree with is badly mistaken. Read the article, then tell me that:
MADISON, Wis. – Conservative targets of a Democrat-launched John Doe investigation have described the secret probe as a witch hunt.
That might not be a big enough descriptor, based on records released Friday by a federal appeals court as part of a massive document dump.
Attorneys for conservative activist Eric O’Keefe and the Wisconsin Club for Growth point to subpoenas requested by John Doe prosecutors that sought records from “at least eight phone companies” believed to serve the targets of the investigation. O’Keefe and the club have filed a civil rights lawsuit against John Doe prosecutors, alleging they violated conservatives’ First Amendment rights.
That the John Doe prosecutors tried to get records from “at least eight phone companies” is frightening enough. Who needs the NSA when Wisconsin has these John Doe prosecutors. Unfortunately, it doesn’t end there:
Subpoenas also demanded the conservatives’ bank records, “emails from every major private email provider” and other information in what some have described as a mini-NSA (National Security Agency) operation in Wisconsin.
“In fact, Defendants’ submissions confirm and expand upon the scope and intensity of retaliation previously demonstrated,” O’Keefe’s attorney wrote in documents ordered unsealed by the 7th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals.
Anyone that thinks this is just a case of some rogue prosecutors gone bad apparently hasn’t paid attention to Rosemary Lehmberg’s indictment of Gov. Rick Perry, (R-TX). These naive people should read this, too:
Chisholm, a Democrat, launched the dragnet two years ago, and, according to court documents, with the help of the state Government Accountability Board, the probe was expanded to five counties. The John Doe proceeding compelled scores of witnesses to testify, and a gag order compelled them to keep their mouths shut or face jail time. Sources have described predawn “paramilitary-style” raids in which their posessions were rifled through and seized by law enforcement officers.
If you thought that weaponized government was just a term used by paranoid conservatives, you’d better rethink things. This is proof that some Democratic prosecutors will use their office for blatantly political purposes. Again and unfortunately, that isn’t all these Democratic thugs with law degrees did. Here’s more:
Court documents show the extraordinary breadth of the prosecutors’ subpoena requests.
They sought phone records for a year-and-a-half period, “which happened to be the most contentious period in political politics,” the conservatives note. They note that prosecutors did not pursue the same tactics with left-leaning organizations that pumped tens of millions of dollars into Wisconsin’s recall elections, in what certainly appeared to be a well-coordinated effort.
Among other documents, prosecutors sought “all call detail records including incoming and outgoing calls,” “billing name and information,” “subscriber name and information including any application for service,” according to the conservatives’ court filing.
In other words, these Democrats wanted confidential information. That’s why the Wisconsin Club for Growth and Eric O’Keefe filed their civil rights lawsuit.
There’s little doubt that these Democrats would’ve used the information they gathered through their witch hunt to chill these conservatives’ desire to participate in the political process. The only retaliation against these Democrats is to a)prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law when possible, b) end their political careers by removing them from their positions of political power and c) pressure Democrat politicians into passing sweeping reforms to prevent these fishing expeditions from today going forward.
If Democrats aren’t willing to limit rogue prosecutors’ ability to conduct political fishing expeditions, then we’ll know that they approve of these Democrats’ behavior.
Thanks to M.D. Kittle and the Wisconsin Reporter, we now know that these Democrats were attempting to chill conservatives from exercising their right to participate in the political process. This needs to be stopped ASAP and it needs to be stopped dead in its tracks.
Technorati: John Doe Prosecutors, John Chisholm, Political Witch Hunt, Subpoenaes, Bank Records, Emails, Phone Records, Civil Rights Violations, Chilling Effect, Smear Campaign, Weaponized Government, Democrats, Scott Walker, Eric O’Keefe, Wisconsin Club for Growth, Civil Rights Lawsuit, First Amendment, Rick Perry, Republicans
Virginia Postrel’s article is a welcome spotlight on the corrupt practices of “Citrus Community College near Los Angeles.” Thankfully, someone afflicted by Citrus Community College’s corruption has a spine:
Last September, Vincenzo Sinapi-Riddle, a student at Citrus Community College near Los Angeles, was collecting signatures on a petition asking the student government to condemn spying by the National Security Agency. He left the school’s designated “free speech area” to go to the student center. On his way there, he saw a likely prospect to join his cause: a student wearing a “Don’t Tread on Me” T-shirt. He stopped the student and they began talking about the petition. Then an administrator came out of a nearby building, informed them their discussion was forbidden outside the speech zone, and warned Sinapi-Riddle he could be ejected from campus for violating the speech-zone rule.
Sinapi-Riddle has now sued Citrus College, a state institution, for violating his First Amendment rights by, among other things, demanding that “expressive activities” be confined to the 1.34 percent of campus designated as a “free speech area.” Perhaps the most outrageous part of his experience is how common it is. The vague bans on “offensive” language and other “politically correct” measures that most people think of when they imagine college speech codes are increasingly being joined by quarantine policies that restrict all student speech, regardless of its content.
People don’t have a constitutional right to not be offended. As Ms. Postrel, these policies aren’t just anti-constitutional, they’re anti-educational:
Contrary to what many people seem to think, higher education doesn’t exist to hand out job credentials to everyone who follows a clearly outlined set of rules. (Will this be on the exam? Do I have to come to class?) Education isn’t a matter of sitting students down and dumping pre-digested information into their heads.
Higher education exists to advance and transmit knowledge, and learning requires disagreement and argument. Even the most vocational curriculum, accounting, physical therapy, civil engineering, graphic design, represents knowledge accumulated through trial and error, experimentation and criticism. That open-ended process isn’t easy and it often isn’t comfortable. The idea that students should be protected from disagreeable ideas is a profoundly anti-educational concept.
That Citrus Community College thinks that they can establish a rule that trumps the First Amendment of our Constitution is stunning. The Constitution and the Bill of Rights trump everything. If a law doesn’t fit within the Constitution’s framework, it’s unconstitutional and it should be repealed ASAP.
Why would a college want to brag that they’re producing intellectual wimps incapable of dealing with life’s uglier moments? That doesn’t make sense, especially to employers. They’re looking for people who can defend their ideas, who can stand up to criticism and still deliver a high-quality product.
Places like Citrus Community College and other like-minded institutions are producing the opposite of what businesses are looking for.
Sinapi-Riddle, in other words, can make a strong case that the Citrus Community College District blatantly violated his First Amendment rights. That’s why his lawsuit and two others involving speech zones at other public schools are part of a new litigation push by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, a civil-liberties watchdog group on whose board I serve. By bringing cases that don’t require new precedents, FIRE hopes to make public colleges pay for their violations of free speech and thereby change the financial incentives facing administrators. “They’re probably going to succeed,” says Volokh, who is not involved in the litigation, “because the case law is generally on their side.”
These lawsuits are great if you’re attempting to right a wrong. Litigation should always be a weapon in the citizen’s arsenal if anyone violated their constitutional rights. What’s better, though, is that state governing boards would discipline institutions that violate students’, or faculty’s, civil rights before it gets to a lawsuit.
Shouldn’t universities be held to a high standard of obeying students’ civil rights? After all, these instutions are shaping future captains of industry. They should respect a person’s civil rights.
I suspect, however, that they aren’t enforcing the Constitution because today’s ‘intellectuals’ don’t agree with the US Constitution. That attitude must stop ASAP. Any institution that doesn’t respect the Constitution deserves getting ridiculed. It’s that simple.
It’s time universities not hire administrators who won’t sign a pledge to live by the Constitution. It’s time that attitudes started changing about the Bill of Rights.
Andrew Napolitano’s op-ed for Fox News is a great history lesson of the Nixon administration’s and the Obama administration’s attempts to suppress political speech. It’s today’s must reading. Here’s Judge Napolitano’s illustration of how the Nixon administration suppressed speech:
Classic examples of “chilling” occurred in the 1970s, when FBI agents and U.S. Army soldiers, in business suits with badges displayed or in full uniform, showed up at anti-war rallies and proceeded to photograph and tape record protesters. When an umbrella group of protesters sued the government, the Supreme Court dismissed the case, ruling that the protesters lacked standing, meaning, because they could not show that they were actually harmed, they could not invoke the federal courts for redress.
Here’s what Judge Napolitano highlighted about the Obama administration’s attempt to suppress political speech:
So, what has the Obama administration done to stifle, or chill, the words of its detractors? For starters, it has subpoenaed the emails and home telephone records of journalists who have either challenged it or exposed its dark secrets. Among those journalists are James Risen of The New York Times and my colleague and friend James Rosen of Fox News. This is more personal than the NSA spying on everyone, because a subpoena is an announcement that a specific person’s words or effects have been targeted by the government, and that person continues to remain in the government’s crosshairs until it decides to let go.
This necessitates hiring legal counsel and paying legal fees. Yet, the targeting of Risen and Rosen was not because the feds alleged that they broke the law, there were no such allegations. Rather, the feds wanted to see their sources and their means of acquiring information. What journalist could perform his work with the feds watching? The reason we have a First Amendment is to assure that no journalist would need to endure that.
To his credit, Rosen hasn’t stopped asking tough questions while reporting on the touchiest of subjects. Though there’s no question that Mr. Rosen and his family have felt pressured by the government, Mr. Rosen has continued doing his job.
I suspect that that’s due in large part to his bosses, Roger Ailes and Rupert Murdoch, have told him that they have his back. Further, I’m certain that his co-workers, people like Bret Baier, Brit Hume, Megyn Kelly, Greta van Susteren, Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity and Fox’s correspondents, have showed him that they’ve got his back, too.
The point is that people can withstand a tyrannical administration’s attempts to chill political speech if a) they’re suppported by their colleagues and b) they’re willing to show that administration that they won’t be intimidated.
That’s the lesson in this tyranny. There’s nothing that’ll send a stronger message to a tyrant than saying that you can’t be intimidated. Admittedly, that’s easier said than done. Still, the rewards can be tremendous and the respect gained from colleagues immense. It’s what’s needed in stopping a bully like this:
Two weeks ago, a notorious pot stirrer in Norfolk, Neb., built a mock outhouse, put it on a truck and drove the truck with permission in a local Fourth of July parade. In front of the outhouse, he placed a mannequin that he claimed looked like himself, and on the outhouse, he posted a sign that stated: “Obama Presidential Library.”
Some thought this was crude, and some thought it was funny; yet it is fully protected speech. It is protected because satire and opinion about public figures are absolutely protected, as well as is all criticism of the government. Yet, the Department of Justice has sent a team to investigate this event because a local official called it racist. Such an allegation by a public official and such a federal investigation are chilling. The reason we have a First Amendment is to ensure that the government stays out of investigating speech.
There’s no question that President Obama and his chief henchman bristled when they saw this. President Obama has the thinnest skin of any American president in my lifetime. It’s one thing to not like it when people poke fun at you. It’s quite another to start a federal investigation when someone pokes fun at the president.
President Obama’s history has been to eliminate his political opponents whenever possible. When that isn’t possible, he’s resorted to Gestapo-like tactic. Threats and intimidation are definitely part of his ‘weaponry.’
The most indespensible tool in fights like this, again, is to show people you’re willing to stand up to their bullying tactics. Another great tool is to get people rallying around you. That’ happened in Rosen’s case. What hasn’t happened, though, is that Democrats haven’t shown they’ve got the integrity required to stand up to a thug in their own party.
The whole purpose of the First Amendment is to permit, encourage and even foment open, wide, robust debate about the policies and personnel of the government. That amendment presumes that individuals, not the government, will decide what language to read and hear. Because of that amendment, the marketplace of ideas, not the government, will determine which criticisms will sink in and sting and which will fall by the wayside and be forgotten.
This is one of those times when the best defense is a great offense. Nothing stops a bully as quickly as giving them a bloody nose or taking out their knee. That’ll send the message that you’re prepared for battle. That, more than anything else, will give a bully pause.