This is a long quote, and deserves to be.
You can read it in its entirety here.
The whole quote is the testimony of Floyd Abrams, the renowned Constitutional lawyer who argued Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, before the U.S. Supreme Court, regarding a cynical Constitutional Amendment, S.J.19, ostensibly proposed to change the First Amendment so Citizens United can be overturned, but really as a campaign issue, since the chances of amending the Constitution are nil, and they know it. This proposed amendment is the Left’s equivalent of the despicable flag-burning amendment pushed by Republicans in the late Eighties, just as disingenuous, just as offensive to free speech, equally constricted to appeal to voters who don’t understand what free speech is.
The Citizens United opinion has been blatantly misrepresented by everyone from Occupy Wall Street to the President, and continues to be a source of political deceit by Democrats and their allies in the media, often out of ignorance. If you have friends who are prone to say silly things about “corporations being people” and “billionaires buying elections,” you should tell them to read Abrams’ testimony, and learn some things they should have learned in high school.
Some highlights (there are many more):
- “The description of the constitutional amendment it proposes states, in its text, that it “relate[s] to contributions and expenditures intended to affect elections.” That’s one way to say it, but I think it would have been more revealing to have said that it actually “relate[s] to speech intended to affect elections.” And it would have been even more revealing, and at least as accurate, to have said that it relates to limiting speech intended to affect elections. And that’s the core problem with it. It is intended to limit speech about elections and it would do just that….”
- “Of course, many of the Court’s opinions have been controversial. Some have not withstood the demands or judgments of history. But no ruling before and after that in the Citizens United case, providing First Amendment protection, has ever been reversed by a constitutional amendment. No speech that the Court has concluded warranted First Amendment protection has ever been transformed, via a constitutional amendment, into being unprotected speech and thus a proper subject of criminal sanctions. In fact, no amendment has ever been adopted limiting rights of the people that the Supreme Court has held were protected by the Bill of Rights in any of the first ten amendments….”
- “The proposed amendment you meet today to consider deals with nothing but political campaign speech. It does not deal with money that is spent for any purpose other than persuading the public who to vote for or against and why. As such, it would limit speech that is at the heart of the First Amendment. And S.J. 19 does so in a sweepingly broad manner. It would not only effectively reverse the Citizens United ruling and cases such as McCutcheon that followed it but also cases that long predate it. Most tellingly, it would reverse Buckley v. Valeo, the 1976 decision joined in by such free expression defenders as Justices William J. Brennan, Thurgood Marshall and Potter Stewart. S.J.19 rejects the central teaching of Buckley that Congress may not, for the asserted purpose of “equalizing the relative ability of individuals and groups to influence the outcome of elections,” limit the spending and hence the speech of those who wished to participate in the political process by persuading people who to vote for or against and why. Under Buckley, individuals and groups are thus free to make independent expenditures in any amount in the election process. In the most memorable observation of the Court in Buckley, it observed that the “concept that government may restrict the speech of some elements of our society in order to enhance the relative voice of others is wholly foreign to the First Amendment ….” Yet that is precisely the notion, in the name of equality, that is at the heart of this proposed amendment.”
- “The title of the proposed amendment goes even farther, claiming that it would “Restore Democracy to the American People.” The notion that democracy has already been lost, as we begin what will obviously be a hard fought election season in which virtually anything can and will be said, could be dismissed as rather typical Washington rhetorical overkill. But the notion that democracy would be advanced – saved, “restored” – by limiting speech is nothing but a perversion of the English language. It brings to mind George Orwell’s observation, in his enduring essay “Politics and the English Language,” that “[i]n our time, political speech and writing are largely the defense of the indefensible,” and that the word “democracy,” in particular, “has several different meanings which cannot be reconciled with each other” and “is often used in a consciously dishonest way.” So let me say in the most direct manner that it is deeply, profoundly, obviously undemocratic to limit speech about who to elect to public office.”
Read it all. While you are doing so, think about how dishonestly and really incompetently the news media is reporting this issue. To begin with, consider the hypocrisy of employees for large media corporations who have unethically and in betrayal of the duty their profession has to the nation used their power to broadcast and publicize their own political views trying to muzzle citizens who gather their resources to achieve a fraction of that impact, and unlike the news media, do not do so under a false guise of objectivity and professionalism. Also ponder the likes of the Washington Post’s Dana Milbank, who while endorsing the goals of the amendment in a column, wrote this about Sen. Ted Cruz’s attack on the bill:
” [L]et me assure you that much of what the Texas Republican said at Tuesday’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing was just as wacky and reckless as usual. Cruz alleged that Democrats, in proposing a constitutional amendment to limit campaign contributions, “support repealing the First Amendment,” would “abandon the Bill of Rights,” were seizing “the power to ban books and to ban movies,” and favored “politicians silencing the citizens.”
“Wacky.” Milbank not only doesn’t understand the issue, he didn’t research it either. In the oral arguments for the government supporting the Federal elections laws that were struck down, the government’s lawyers, including now Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan, argued that the law gave the government a right to ban books (under certain circumstances, of course, so no worries!) and the case itself was about banning a movie!
If Milbank really thinks what Cruz suggested was so “wacky,” he should be supporting Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. Instead, he is either lying to his readers or passing along his own inexcusable ignorance.