Back in January, to everybody’s surprise, the United States Supreme Court ruled that “Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press,” means that “Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press.” I never saw that coming; the Court actually read the Constitution and made a ruling based on what it actually says.
Regardless, our current Congress and president didn’t like this ruling since the laws it overturned were laws that benefited their special interest groups at the expense of groups that supported their political opposition. As such, our government has been working on crafting new laws to “abridge the freedom of speech, or of the press” until the Supreme Court can overturn them too, or until we amend the Constitution to actually allow these things.
Up for debate very soon will be the DISCLOSE Act, which is intended to re-muzzle those ‘peaceable assemblies’ (hm, also mentioned in the First Amendment) that were recently un-muzzled by the Court. This act, if passed, will have a dangerous chilling effect on speech by political groups, left and right. This act doesn’t protect our political liberty, it destroys it (again).
Interest groups, of course, are made up of people who willingly support those groups with their time and money. They aren’t some diabolical, nebulous enemy of our democracy; they are democracy. We have a right to support political interest groups and those groups, representing their members and supporters, have a right to engage in pretty-much unrestricted political speech.
Those of us who still want and enjoy our political liberties must oppose this bill. We also must oppose the back-room deals being made between Congress and certain large groups, like the National Rifle Association (NRA), to exempt them from the law in order to buy their silence. This is the same-old ‘politics as usual’ that President Barack Obama (D) campaigned against and, most perplexing, it benefits the large lobbying groups the president decries at the expense of the small, grass-roots organizations across the political spectrum that are the lifeblood of our republic.
Editorial Note: I am a member and regular supporter of the National Rifle Association (NRA). The views expressed in this piece are mine and mine alone and do not necessarily reflect the official positions of the NRA.