This column presents facts regarding the United States Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, the Wisconsin State Constitution, and various other documents in reference to modern topics. Mark hopes to encourage interest in those works so that others can consider whether our government is practicing within its constitutional limits. In the last category, he may indicate his opinion. Mark is a resident of New Berlin. Readers are encouraged to visit the following sites for more information on the United States Constitution and Thomas Jefferson's views on politics and government.
According to CHN News; April 19, 2012
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi on Thursday endorsed a movement announced by other congressional Democrats on Wednesday to ratify an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would allow Congress to regulate political speech when it is engaged in by corporations as opposed to individuals.
The First Amendment says in part: "Congress shall make no law ... abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press..."
Pelosi said the Democrats' effort to amend the Constitution is part of a three-pronged strategy that also includes promoting the DISCLOSE Act, which would increase disclosure requirements for organizations running political ads, and “reducing the role of money in campaigns” (which some Democrats have said can be done through taxpayer funding of campaigns).
The constitutional amendment the Democrats seek would reverse the Supreme Court’s 2010 decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. In that decision the court said that the First Amendment protects a right of free speech for corporations as well as for individuals, and that corporations (including those that produce newspapers, films and books) have a right to speak about politicians and their records just as individuals do.
Rep. Donna Edwards (D.-Md.) explained the basic principle this move to amend the Constitution is advancing.
“In Citizens United, what the court said is that Congress has no authority to regulate this kind of political speech,” said Edwards. “And so all of these constitutional amendments go to this question of giving Congress the authority that the Supreme Court, I think wrongly, decided isn't within Congress's constitutional--our constitutional purview.
“And so, you know, the traditional rights of free speech that we have known as citizens would not be disturbed by any of these constitutional amendments,” said Edwards. “But what it would do is it would say, all of the speech in which, whether it's corporations or campaign committees and others engage in, would be able to be fully regulated under the authority of the Congress and--and under our Constitution.”
"Take my hypothetical," Chief Justice John Roberts said to Stewart as he asked him about what kind of books the Obama administration believed it could constitutionally ban, "... This [book] is a discussion of the American political system, and at the end it says: Vote for X."
"Yes," said Deputy Solicitor General Stewart, "our position would be that the corporation would be required to use PAC funds rather than general treasury funds."
Roberts followed up: "And if they didn't, you could ban it?"
"If they didn't, we could prohibit the publication of the book using corporate treasury funds," Stewart answered.
According to FoxNews/AP ; Jul 18, 2012
New York Sen. Charles Schumer claimed Monday that "there ought to be limits" on First Amendment rights, while arguing in favor of Democrat-backed legislation that would require full disclosure of big-money donors behind election campaign advertising.
"I believe there ought to be limits because the First Amendment is not absolute. No amendment is absolute," Schumer said on the Senate floor.
"You can't scream 'fire' falsely in a crowded theater. We have libel laws. We have anti-pornography laws. All of those are limits on the First Amendment," he said. "Well, what could be more important than the wellspring of our democracy? And certain limits on First Amendment rights that if left unfettered, destroy the equality - any semblance of equality in our democracy - of course would be allowed by the Constitution.
Some members of Congress vs. Funding of Free speech
US Constitution, Amendment 1
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.
We the People:
How they resent the restraints on them by the Constitution! These Congressmen and women would have us believe that increasing their power over communication will help and protect us. Senator Schumer said that constitutional limits are not absolute; and that the lack of federal limits on speech inhibits democracy. They cynically twist their disdain of certain speech and couch it as a disdain of money. Now that is clever marketing! It is still chilling that any elected official of the United States could openly support an act that would inhibit a book or newspaper publication because of the political content. In reference to the DISCLOSE act, let me remind you; Thomas Paine’s book Common Sense was first published anonymously.