Free Speech or Flee Speech in the U.S. Senate?

By Tony Perkins

Congress may have spent a month back home, but Senate leaders obviously didn’t learn anything while they were there. With just 10 days left for legislative business, Harry Reid’s chamber will have plenty of voters to answer to about why their leaders didn’t deal with the crises at hand — on the border, in the Middle East, and with the economy. Instead, the party desperately trying to prove it can still be trusted to lead the Senate is making the opposite case with dead-end proposals like Sen. Tom Udall’s (D-N.M.).

Despite the more urgent things on the Senate’s to-do-list, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) isn’t giving up on his party’s First Amendment rewrite, S.J. 19, and insists on wasting valuable time on a politically driven stunt that tries to limit the accountability Congress has to voters. Under Sen. Udall’s resolution, liberals are pushing to strip political speech out of the First Amendment and put it under a separate legislative box where Congress — the objects of that speech — can regulate it.

Under the Udall language, Congress would grant itself broad new powers to regulate what’s said about what happens in government, both at the federal and state level. Everything Americans use to hold members accountable — from political ads to voter guides — would not-so-coincidentally come under the control of the same leaders the information targets. (Fox, meet henhouse). Apparently, Sen. Reid and company think they understand freedom better than the framers of America’s Bill of Rights and aren’t letting a little thing like “Congress shall make no law… abridging the freedom of speech…” stand in their way.

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Of course, this is completely consistent with much of the Left, which claims it wants fair and open debate — only to stifle it when they realize their arguments are so antithetical to what America has historically stood for that they just can’t win. To every voter at the polls this November, Udall’s push should be a defining act. This sly gag order under the guise of “campaign finance reform” is symbolic of the political mechanism of the Left. The George Soroses of the world can’t defend what they’re promoting, so they try to change the rules so radically that even the ACLU objects. Nothing about the Udall amendment is in keeping with American ideals, and with yet another attempt to silence political opponents the same can be said about the President’s entire party.

Tony Perkins is president of the Washington, D.C.-based Family Research Council. He is a former member of the Louisiana legislature where he served for eight years, and he is recognized as a legislative pioneer for authoring measures like the nation’s first Covenant Marriage law.

(Via FRC’s Washington Update. Tony Perkins’ Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.)

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.

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