Congressman Yarmuth wants to amend the constitution to limit free speech [Opinion: The Arena]

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Kentucky Third District Congressman John Yarmuth

In a blatantly transparent move to garner support from the Occupy Louisville protesters, Rep. John Yarmuth is proposing a constitutional amendment that would overturn a campaign finance ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court that the Louisville Democrat says has given special interests undue influence over elections.  The congressman, who represents Kentucky’s 3rd District, is sponsoring the constitutional amendment with Rep. Walter Jones, R-N.C.

First Amendment for Liberals.JPGThe lawmakers are aiming to reverse the high court’s January 2010 decision in a case called Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, in which the high court ruled that the government could not ban or limit political spending by corporations in federal elections.  The majority held that such a ban was an unconstitutional restriction on free speech: 

“All speakers, including individuals and the media, use money amassed from the economic marketplace to fund their speech, and the First Amendment protects the resulting speech. 

“Differential treatment of media corporations and other corporations cannot be squared with the First Amendment, and there is no support for the view that the Amendment’s original meaning would permit suppressing media corporations’ political speech.”

occupy-the-courts.jpgParroting the ubiquitous mantra of the Occupiers, that “money is not speech,” and “corporations are not persons,” Yarmuth wants to find a way around the First Amendment’s protection of free speech for corporations.  “The decision was written in such a way that the only way to correct it is with a constitutional amendment,” Yarmuth said. “You can’t legislate around it. Believe me, everybody has tried to find a way.”

Yarmuth’s amendment also would establish a public financing system to make taxpayers pay for all federal elections, and it would be the sole source of money for candidates. In addition, the amendment would allow Congress to make federal election days holidays.

Proposed Constitutional Amendment:

free_speech_1221a.jpg‘‘SECTION 1. Financial expenditures, or in kind equivalents, with respect to a candidate for Federal office, without regard to whether or not a communication expressly advocates the election or defeat of a specified candidate in the election, shall not constitute protected speech, as guaranteed by this Constitution or any amendment to this Constitution.

‘‘SECTION 2. Congress shall have the power to enact a mandatory public financing system to provide funds to qualified candidates in elections for Federal office, which shall be the sole source of funds raised or spent with respect to Federal elections.

‘‘SECTION 3. Congress shall set forth a legal public holiday for the purposes of voting in regularly scheduled general elections for Federal office.’’

Rep. Yarmuth on MSNBC to discuss his Constitutional amendment

(Watch closely.  At 3:39, Rep. Yarmuth mentions “The Koch brothers on the right, or even George Soros on the left…”  But just as he mentions Soros, MSNBC cuts the video and removes the mention of Soros.)

Yarmuth is not the first ultra-liberal politician to jump on the Occupy bandwagon.  Earlier this month, Socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) introduced a constitutional amendment that would ban corporate campaign donations to candidates, and give congress and the states broad authority to regulate spending in elections.  Sanders’ amendment followed another one proposed by Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) in late November, the “Occupy Wall Street” inspired “Occupied Amendment.”  It would also outlaw corporate money in politics and end so-called “corporate personhood.”

Sens. Tom Udall (D-NM) and Michael Bennet of (D-CO) have also introduced a constitutional amendment that would overturn Citizens United by granting Congress and the states the authority to regulate the campaign finance system.

free_Speech 1221.jpgThe liberals love to extol the First Amendment, when it comes to the Occupy movement, pornography, and the release of defense secrets; but when they feel threatened, they are quick to pounce upon any free speech or free exercise of religion that might challenge their worldview.  The war on Christmas, and the attempt to regulate “hate speech,” are cases in point.

Of course, the proposed constitutional amendment hasn’t a snowball’s chance in hell of ever passing; and Yarmuth has acknowledged that successfully passing his proposed amendment “will be tough.”  The congressman’s motives for introducing such a foolish proposal are clearly more symbolically political than practical.  He has chosen to align himself with the radical Occupiers and the far-left wing of his party.  This shift should not be lost on the voters of the Third District, come next election day.

Previous article:  Congressman Yarmuth wants to change constitution, limit rights

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Louisville.com's The Arena section features opinions from active participants in the city's politics. Their viewpoints are not those of Louisville.com (a website is an inanimate object and, as such, has no opinions).  Of course, Louisville.com is owned by a corporation, and could therefore be limited in what it could publish, in the unlikely event Congressman Yarmuth's restrictive constitutional amendment is adopted.
 

 

About Thomas McAdam
At various times I have been a student, a soldier, a college Political Science teacher, a political campaign treasurer, and legal adviser to Louisville's Police Department and Board of Aldermen. I now practice law and share my political opinions with anyone who will listen.
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