On the day that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) pens an eloquent defense of the First Amendment (he will also be speaking at the American Enterprise Institute today), we have Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) declaring yet again that the First Amendment is a gross inconvenience when it comes to regulating political speech.
[T]he administration’s troubling view of free speech was perhaps best summed up just this week, when Obama’s top political adviser said that if the president is reelected in November, a top priority could be a constitutional amendment to change the First Amendment.
The courts have said Congress doesn’t have the authority to muzzle political speech. So the president plans to silence his opponents by amending the First Amendment itself. Now, this is radicalism.
No individual or group in this country should have to face harassment or intimidation, or incur crippling expenses, defending themselves against their own government, simply because that government doesn’t like the message they’re advocating.
If you can’t convince people of the wisdom of your policies, then you should come up with better arguments. But, sadly, a growing number of people on the left, and now in the government itself, appear to have concluded that they can’t win on the merits. So they’ve resorted to bullying and intimidation. The potential consequences are grave.
It’s hard to imagine a more broadly accepted and celebrated proposition in America today than the fact that, as Americans, we are free to speak our minds openly, without fear of punishment or reprisal from government authorities. But for U.S. politicians, it is a temptation always to be resisted. Because if all political speech isn’t protected, none is.
Then there is McCain. He thinks because a U.S. citizen, Sheldon Adelson, has a casino overseas, he shouldn’t be allowed to spend his money independently to voice his support for a presidential candidate:
Mr. McCain, his party’s 2008 presidential nominee and one of Mr. Romney’s most prominent surrogates, was asked in the interview about recent contributions of $10 million to the super PAC, called Restore our Future, from Sheldon Adelson, a billionaire casino owner, and his wife, Miriam. Mr. McCain noted that Mr. Adelson’s casino empire draws much of its revenue from overseas casinos, including major properties in Macau.
“Obviously, maybe in a roundabout way, foreign money is coming into an American campaign,” Mr. McCain said in the interview, which was with PBS.
Does he think overseas gamblers lost money intentionally to funnel funds to Romney?
Thunk. Well I suppose no one who gets a dividend or makes a profit from an overseas company can participate in political speech. It would be funny, if it weren’t so shocking, that a U.S. senator has not a clue about the Constitution — or commerce for that matter.