The First Amendment to the US Constitution has some of our most important protections in it: freedom to worship as we see fit; freedom to speak freely; freedom of our press; freedom to protest peacefully; and freedom to go to our government with our complaints. The First Amendment, “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” covers a lot of ground. One that we, as Americans treasure is our freedom of speech. It is under grievous attack. Most of us are just too stupid, or oblivious, or worried about being politically correct to see it coming.
A few Democrats in the Senate want to mess with our 1st Amendment protections and are sponsoring an Amendment to the Constitution to abridge the 1st. In response to the recent SCOTUS decision of campaign finance and free speech, Senator Tom Udall (D-N.M.) proposed an Amendment that would overturn those cases. They never think these things through. Also, there’s the little issue of George Soros and other top “uber” donors from the left outspending the right by millions. You see, Soros, et al, are exercising free speech when they spend. Conservatives are just lying and should be stopped from exercising their free speech rights. SCOTUS said that is exactly what campaign advertising is: free speech, and Congress’ making laws to curtail spending on advertising is an unfair abridgment of our free speech rights.
Udall’s amendment would do several things: 1) specifically authorize Congress and the states to regulate and limit fundraising and spending for federal candidates; 2) give Congress authority to regulate and limit independent expenditures from outside groups such as super-PACs; and 3) protect future campaign finance legislation passed by Congress from reversal by the Supreme Court. That last part is, in and of itself, unconstitutional since in infringes on separation of powers.
Keep in mind that the chance of it actually passing Congress is practically nil. An amendment to the Constitution requires two-thirds of the Senate and two-thirds of the House just to pass the first hurdle. After that it needs three quarters of the states to sign off, or ratify, the amendment for it to become part of our Constitution.
This week, NBA Clippers owner, Donald Sterling, said some really stupid things. He proved yet again that he is a racist idiot. Guess what? Here’s the biggest problem with the whole brouhaha: he made the comments in a place where he expected the most privacy – his own home. His mistress illegally recorded him. Let’s not forget that little gem of a fact. She recorded him without his knowledge. That is illegal. In order for law enforcement to do the same thing they need court approval (via an Order or a Warrant). None of what he said would be admissible in a criminal proceeding because the evidence was gathered illegally.
I would ask those who are applauding the outcome of this whole situation – the lifetime banning of him from basketball and possible future loss of his franchise ownership – to stop and think about all the stupid things they say when they are in their homes expecting privacy. I’d hold my breath waiting for a prosecutor in California to arrest and prosecute her for the illegal wiretapping, but then I’d suffocate!
(Just a quick flashback: Several years ago James O’Keefe and Hannah Giles went into several ACORN offices and recorded ACORN staff advising them how to avoid taxes and promote child prostitution with young, illegal girls. One of those tapes were recorded in my hometown of Baltimore. O’Keefe was investigated in Maryland for violating Maryland law in making the recording and the leftists who are all applauding the Sterling situation were screaming for O’Keefe’s head.)
Even Joyce Carol Oates, a leftist author, gets the gravity of the 1st Amendment implications. She posted a series of tweets where she asked “Am I the only person in US surprised that a private conversation (no matter how ugly) can be the basis for such public recrimination?” To that I would say no – plenty of those on the right completely get it. She then continued with several more: “Nostalgia for time when one could say anything in private no matter how stupid, cruel, self-serving or plain wrong & not be criminalized.” “This era of ever-vigilant social media & NSA surveillance may one day be seen as the end of ‘free speech’ in America. Happened so quickly.” “Many, perhaps most, US citizens now seem to believe that you can/ should be punished for what you say even in private. Repercussions?”
The implications of both these situations are rather disturbing. People expect that what we say in private can’t be used against us to deprive us of our freedom or our property. It’s why the government (i.e. the police and prosecutors) need to have probable cause before a court will allow them to gather audio or video evidence of things said in a place where people have a reasonable expectation of privacy. Our homes are the one place where this expectation is the strongest. Don Sterling, as abhorrent as he may be, may now lose his property over this tape recording. He will be deprived of property, without due process, based on illegally procured evidence.
And most of America is applauding it.
Image: Courtesy of: http://www.flickr.com/photos/left-hand/1937150369/