Steve Simpson, a constitutional lawyer, and director of Legal Studies at the Ayn Rand Institute has a brilliant op-ed in TheHill on why Free speech is a right, not a political weapon.

He makes the case for why free speech “protects the right to take the actions necessary to make one’s speech heard, whether that means spending money on political ads or publishing books or newspapers free of the crushing costs of frivolous libel lawsuits.”

1. Trump Does Not View Free Speech as a Right

Trump […] doesn’t view it as a right that protects speakers regardless of their views. […] Whether Trump is opposing free speech outright or trying to bully speakers, he is no friend of free speech.

2. Trump’s Urge to Censor is No Different From Hillary Clinton

[…] Trump’s urge to censor this form of speech [flag-burning] really different from Hillary Clinton’s desire to ban the political speech at issue in Citizens United? The case, which upheld the rights of corporations to speak during elections, involved a law that prevented a nonprofit from distributing a film that criticized Clinton the last time she ran for president. During her campaign, she promised repeatedly to appoint Supreme Court justices who would overturn the case, calling the film it protected “a right-wing attack on me and my campaign.”

3. Campaign Finance Laws Silence Freedom of Speech

During the floor debates for McCain-Feingold, the law at issue in Citizens United, many politicians, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz., included, championed the law because it would prevent groups from funding negative political ads against them. After Citizens United was decided, Congress considered the Disclose Act, which would have forced many organizations to disclose their donors. In praising the law, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said that its “deterrent effect” on corporate political speech “should not be underestimated.”

4. Politicians Attacking the Speech of Opponents is Not New

Remember the Obama administration’s attacks on Fox News as “not really a news station”? Or the FCC’s investigations of news broadcasters to determine if their coverage was “biased”? It is certainly scary for Trump to attack the media as he’s done, but it is equally scary when any president or administration does so. […] Remember Harry Reid’s sustained assault on the Koch brothers, whom he called “un-American” for having the temerity to oppose his agenda? Or the IRS’s targeting of Tea Party groups, which was prompted by politicians who urged the agency to investigate the groups?

5. Both Left and Right Don’t Understand or Support The *Right* To Free Speech on Principle

They treat free speech not as a principle but as a weapon to be used against their political enemies. When your enemies are in power, complain about the threats to speech you like; when you are in power, use government to intimidate and silence your critics.

Don’t for your bookshelf, his book, Defending Free Speech (ARI Press,2016).

Voice of Capitalism

Capitalism news delivered every Monday to your email inbox.

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Pin It on Pinterest