I rise today to discuss a recent Senate vote which wages an unprecedented attack on a fundamental American freedom. The framers of our Constitution were clear when they stated in the Bill of Rights…”Congress shall make no law…..prohibiting the free exercise of speech.” However, this week, the Senate Majority has sought to undermine this fundamental freedom by offering a constitutional amendment to give Congress more control over the free speech rights of Americans.
I opposed moving forward with this amendment because political speech is essential to the American way of life. Our nation was founded on those who openly criticized the monarch and argued for a better form of government. All branches of our government rely on the ability for Americans to passionately defend their interests. Additionally, when we elect candidates for office we the electorate rely on open dialog about why he or she ought to serve a particular community or state. Political speech is exactly the type of expression the founders sought to protect when they adopted the Bill of Rights – however, this proposal completely forgets about that freedom.
Giving the federal government the ability to regulate what we say is flat out dangerous. What is a reasonable limitation on political speech? The sponsors of this proposal can’t answer that and it’s reckless to assume that federal courts will determine the correct answer. What concerns me the most is where does this regulation stop? The answer is not clear and at the very end of the day this constitutional amendment limits the way in which Americans can voice their concerns about their elected officials.
With all that the Senate needs to accomplish it’s an embarrassment that the Majority Leader would bring this up now, not allow amendments and expect this institution to forget about the very freedoms our founders sought to protect when they drafted our federal constitution. I yield the floor.