Supreme Court: More Free Speech, Not Less

Yesterday, the Supreme Court handed down another opinion as it winds down its 2016 Term. The opinion issued today was Matal v. Tam, also known as "The Slants" case. The crux of this case was whether the U.S. Government could withhold trademark protection from words or terms that could offend society, in the opinion of government bureaucrats. Resoundingly, the Court declared, "No!" in an 8-0 decision. Both wings of the Court met at the middle, albeit emphasizing different means to get there.

Justice Alito authored the opinion of the Court, which was joined by the conservatives members of the Court. He stated:

[The idea that the government may restrict] speech expressing ideas that offend … strikes at the heart of the First Amendment. Speech that demeans on the basis of race, ethnicity, gender, religion, age, disability, or any other similar ground is hateful; but the proudest boast of our free speech jurisprudence is that we protect the freedom to express “the thought that we hate.” 

We have said time and again that “the public expression of ideas may not be prohibited merely because the ideas are themselves offensive to some of their hearers.” Street v. New York, 394 U. S. 576, 592 (1969). See also Texas v. Johnson, 491 U. S. 397, 414 (1989) (“If there is a bedrock principle underlying the First Amendment, it is that the government may not prohibit the expression of an idea simply because society finds the idea itself offensive or disagreeable”) [more cases omitted] …

Justice Kennedy authored a separate concurrence, which the liberal members of the Court signed on to as well:

A law found to discriminate based on viewpoint is an“egregious form of content discrimination,” which is “presumptively unconstitutional.” …  

A law that can be directed against speech found offensive to some portion of the public can be turned against minority and dissenting views to the detriment of all. The First Amendment does not entrust that power to the government’s benevolence. Instead, our reliance must be on the substantial safeguards of free and open discussion in a democratic society.

Here, both wings of the Court arrived at the same end: more free speech is better than less; the "Good" will drown out the "Bad."

However, in the state of play, the left is working to silence multiple viewpoints before they can even be heard. Case in point: the left's disparaging comments about Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity before the commission has even been convened. Allow the commission to do it job and assess the situation--then, there can be a true and free debate about the findings.