Attacking speech

Reaction from the left to the U.S. Supreme Court’s campaign finance decision this week was nothing sort of astonishing. Meet the new book burners.

Sen. Charles Schumer, the New York Democrat, demanded hearings to explore how Congress could get around the decision. President Barack Obama said he wants a “forceful response” to the ruling, whatever that means.

Other liberal censors decried the court’s judicial “activism” and warned that evil corporations would now be able to hoodwink stupid voters into supporting certain candidates.

What twaddle.

Where are the defenders of free speech and the Bill of Rights in the Democratic Party and among its progressive acolytes? Their silence is embarrassing.

The ruling tosses out federal statutes that prohibited corporations and other associations from spending their money on advertising time near an election to support or attack a candidate. The five majority justices recognized that banning certain types of speech near an election represents a particularly insidious form of tyranny in that it outlaws the very communication the First Amendment was specifically crafted to protect.

As for the judicial activism complaint, justices who uphold the plain words of the Constitution — which is what the majority did here — are doing their jobs, not engaging in activism. The activist judges are the ones who allowed these obviously unconstitutional restrictions to remain in place.

During arguments in the case last March, a government attorney was asked whether Congress could also ban a group from publishing a book that mentioned a candidate near election time. The lawyer answered yes.

“That’s pretty incredible,” said Justice Samuel Alito.

Chief Justice John Roberts picked up the line of questioning: “If it has one name, one use of the candidate’s name, it would be covered, correct?” he asked.

“That’s correct,” the lawyer replied.

Let’s recap: Congress passed a law that allows the government to ban books. The Supreme Court tossed it out as an abridgement of the First Amendment. Apoplectic Democrats and progressives attack the decision.

What’s wrong with this picture?

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