Well, I’m Lee Goodman, I’m Chairman of the Federal Election Committee and I’m here to help. – Lee Goodman, LPAC 2014
It is not very often that I start a blog off with a quote; however, given the impact Goodman’s speech undoubtedly had on those who were fortunate enough to attend Liberty Political Action Conference back in 2014 or who have had the pleasure of viewing it since, it seemed a fitting introduction for a series of blog posts.
Goodman has spent the bulk of his time with the FEC defending the First Amendment. This speech came at a time where he was personally subject to two federal suits for standing up for the constitution and the rights conferred upon us all by the First Amendment. Goodman continued . . .
We know that what distinguishes America from totalitarian regimes is fundamentally the First Amendment, which is the first freedom on which all of our other freedoms are based [. . . ]
The First Amendment is the very foundation of all our freedoms. If we choose to allow others to grind down those freedoms then we will undoubtedly lose our way. This should be a primary concern for everyone, right or left. Our ability to discuss and debate issues has come under attack. Sharing or speaking opinions, even unpopular ones, is how this country was born. The left seeks to overturn Citizens United (either by a decision or Constitutional Amendment) and it clearly is a step in the wrong direction. The ability to communicate, share diverse perspectives, and generally disagree with others' opinions are what makes this country the icon of freedom in the world today. Simply because you do not agree with something someone else says does not mean that an individual or association should not have the right to say it.
[T]hen in 2010, in the Citizens United v. FEC decision, the Supreme Court recognized that people form associations to speak and they do not shed their First Amendment rights just because they incorporate their association.
Associations serve only to amplify the voice of the individual and in turn, clarify the common voice of the association. An association is merely a group of likeminded individuals working together toward a common goal. Sharing their opinions with the public demonstrates the most basic of freedoms provided by the Constitution. This does not mean that the public has to listen to them. The holding in Citizens United affirms that speech expressed by individuals in this context was meant to be protected. To seek its overturning is to seek the ruination of First Amendment itself.
Now, those people who prefer more regulation of speech, and prefer to banish certain speakers and their ideas from the public debate are very frustrated with those decisions.
Regulation of speech is rarely a good thing and even more rarely does it help to provide any feasible solutions to actual problems. As Goodman pointed out, this is what separates the United States from other “totalitarian regimes.” As the assault on First Amendment continues, it has become clear that we need voices like Goodman’s to speak out against those who seek to silence the speech and ideas of others, lest we allow ourselves to develop into one of those totalitarian regimes.