House Democrats and their most loyal liberal allies are attempting in multiple different ways to effectively repeal the First Amendment. By taking away donor privacy and controlling how money is spent. The effort was their top priority as shown by the very symbolically numbered HR 1. As Real Clear Politics describes it:
However, one of the biggest concerns about the legislation is barely being discussed. HR1 requires so much disclosure of funding sources that, critics say, far from rendering politicians accountable and transparent, it creates a privacy nightmare for ordinary citizens who give to nonprofit organizations.
It would establish a new form of federally regulated speech, a robust public financing system, and create new regulations for political communications on social media, among many other things. All of this has First Amendment defenders on guard.
The ironic thing about this is while groups (such as the Brennan Center and Planned Parenthood) that value their seats at the proverbial Democratic Party table are promoting HR 1 despite how it might harm their organizations, a few-left leaning groups are actually upset about HR 1. These include the ACLU and noted liberal law professor and campaign finance warrior Larry Lessig. This has created some unlikely allies:
“I would not use the word disclosure and I would not use the word transparency. … Disclosure is for the government. Privacy is for private organizations and individuals,” says attorney Eric Wang, who authored a critical analysis of HR1 for the Institute for Free Speech. “I don't necessarily buy in to this notion that this is all about disclosure and transparency. Because those are terms that are laden with positive connotations and they sort of stacked the deck in the debate of this issue.”
In 2009, Harvard professor Lawrence Lessig wrote a prescient New Republic essay, “Against Transparency,” about the limits of campaign finance disclosure. . . .
There’s much that campaign finance experts such as Wang and Lessig probably disagree on. But in order to have a productive debate on what transparency and accountability for campaign cash should look like, Lessig observes, “We have to be sensitive to the different levels of engagement and different interests at stake.” The worry is that there is no ongoing debate about the limits of transparency, even though the country is on the precipice of enacting laws that threaten privacy and could have major unintended consequences.
The Democrats' rush to pass HR 1 before hearings on it were even completed is a prime example. Unfortunately, HR 1 is not the only effort to effectively repeal the First Amendment and regulate speech. The infamous Rep. Adam Schiff of the “I-have-seen-collusion” invention is doing it again in the effort for disclosure. He really is attempting to obliterate the First Amendment. As the Washington Examiner editorialized:
Schiff’s amendment, like Udall’s before it, would effectively end the First Amendment’s 240 years of near-absolute freedom of political speech and writing from congressional interference.
It would weaken, perhaps fatally, whatever constitutional backstop exists in the courts for those silenced. This would fundamentally and permanently change American civic life for the worse.
It does so under the guise of HR 1-like controls over campaign spending. Again in the Washington Examiner:
Although money and speech are not strict one-for-one equivalents, the reigning Supreme Court precedent is correct that at some level money really is speech. There can be no freedom of political speech if Congress can prevent you, under penalty of fine or prison, from spending money to disseminate your message as widely as possible. That applies whether you choose to exercise your rights alone or in groups with other like-minded citizens.
As Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in his majority opinion, “If the First Amendment has any force, it prohibits Congress from fining or jailing citizens, or associations of citizens, for simply engaging in political speech."
The liberals need to give up all their attempts to effectively repeal the First Amendment. Without political freedoms, all other freedoms will eventually cease.