Harry Reid Wants to Gut the 1st Amendment
Harry Reid Wants to Gut the 1st Amendment
The United States Senate is finally getting to work. Don’t cheer yet. In fact, don’t cheer at all. You see, the Senate isn’t focusing on critical budget issues. The Senate isn’t focusing on critical immigration issues. And the Senate isn’t focusing on National Security issues such as ISIS. What are they focusing on instead? Gutting our 1st Amendment to protect themselves from those big corporations.
The 1st Amendment states:
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.
Its pretty clear isn’t it? This amendment provides us with the freedom to speak as we wish, the freedom of the press, tells Congress not to establish religion or prohibit any exercise of religion, tells us we can assemble peacefully, and we can petition if we don’t like something. So what’s the issue?
Campaign Finance and big corporations are the issue! And so, Senate Joint Resolution 19 was birthed in June with Senator Tom Udall (D-NM) as the chief sponsor of SJR 19 to try stop those bad corporations. According to Andrew Clevenger:
Merkley told The Bulletin on Monday his support of the amendment is grounded in the first three words of the Constitution: We the people. “We have a system of campaign finance that isn’t of, by, and for the people; it’s of, by and for the powerful,” Merkley said, echoing Abraham Lincoln’s famous description of the American government in the Gettysburg Address. “This is very corrupting on the fundamental sense of what our democracy is.”
What does the SJR 19 say?
Section 1. To advance democratic self-government and political equality, and to protect the integrity of government and the electoral process, Congress and the States may regulate and set reasonable limits on the raising and spending of money by candidates and others to influence elections.
Section 2. Congress and the States shall have power to implement and enforce this article by appropriate legislation, and may distinguish between natural persons and corporations or other artificial entities created by law, including by prohibiting such entities from spending money to influence elections.
Section 3. Nothing in this article shall be construed to grant Congress or the States the power to abridge the freedom of the press.
Its all because we should or shouldn’t have wealthy donors to campaigns. Right Harry?
Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.), who regularly uses Senate floor speeches to blast the growing influence of the Koch brothers, did so again Monday, suggesting that thanks to lax campaign finance laws, “families can’t compete with billionaires.”
If Congress doesn’t act to reverse the Supreme Court decision, “The only people that would have a vote are these megabillionaires who are trying to buy our country,” he said. “They are trying to buy America, at every level of government. Why? Because they want to make more money.”
If you can stand hearing and watching Harry bloviate about those big bad billionaires, take a look:
Here’s a question for our readers. Don’t we already have at least 2 laws on the books that provide abilities and limits for financing campaigns, and might even hinder some of those billionaires from taking over funding campaigns? Why yes indeed! With Citizens United and McCutcheon. With Citizens United;
The court explicitly left untouched the federal ban on direct contributions from corporations or unions to candidate campaigns or political parties. Citizens United also upheld disclosure requirements, the very opposite of shadowy.
Meanwhile limits on individual campaign contributions aren’t hindered either.
McCutcheon struck down the aggregate limits on the amount an individual may contribute during a two-year period to all federal candidates, parties and political-action committees combined. Mr. Reid’s denunciation of McCutcheon in April because “all it does is take away people’s rights” is preposterous. People’s rights to participate broadly in the political process are enhanced, not taken away, by the court’s ruling. McCutcheon did not overturn the limits on how much individuals can give to a particular politician’s campaign, which remains at $2,600 per federal election.
By the way, when talking about individual contributions to campaigns or even an individual’s right to Free Speech, did anyone notice something about SJR 19? Yep, you got it. The freedom of the press will not be abridged. Ok good. Umm Harry?? Harry!!
Can I interrupt your dreams about all the donations you think are going to get from passing this resolution? Have you given any thought to protecting my freedom of speech? Nahhh, I didn’t think so. That is correct. This lovely little resolution seeking to gut our 1st Amendment rights makes no provision to protect my freedom of speech or yours. Instead, it explicitly ensures that our press is safe. That’s all well and good, but I really don’t think that SJR 19 should be a priority for the Senate. U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) agrees:
We’ve spent the last several weeks back home meeting with our constituents…My constituents did not say, ‘Well, the most important thing you can do is pass a constitutional amendment gutting the First Amendment – the right to free speech.’ That didn’t come up one time.
So Harry and crew. I’d like you to know something. Our 1st Amendment is more than fine the way it is. I’d like you to leave it alone. But if you aren’t going to listen to me, then perhaps you’ll listen to what this guy said:
“In the entire history of the Constitution,” the late Ted Kennedy once stated on the Senate floor, “we have never amended the Bill of Rights, and now is not the time to start. It would be wrong to carve an exception in the First Amendment. Campaign finance reform is a serious problem, but it does not require that we twist the meaning of the Constitution.”