Democrats Urge IRS to Crush Conservative Free Speech
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press…” –First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution
Perhaps at no time in its history since the passage of the Alien and Sedition Acts have the citizens of the United States been more in danger of losing their First Amendment right to free speech than they are today. How ironic then, that the attacks are coming primarily from the political left, who have long declared themselves defenders of free speech.
Yet the astute William F. Buckley seems to have had it right when he observed that “Liberals claim to want to give a hearing to other views but then are shocked and offended to discover that there are other views.” Such reviling of opposing speech is rampant today, and is getting worse.
Following the revelation last year that the IRS had been targeting conservative groups with words like “TEA Party” or “Patriot” in their names, Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder claimed to be shocked and appalled that this agency would be used as a bludgeon to silence their political opponents. Senior IRS official Lois Lerner resigned, and refused to testify before Congress, invoking her 5th Amendment right against self-incrimination. The nation was assured that the Obama administration would get to the bottom of it.
The Obama administration has hit the bottom, alright, but instead of admitting that these actions were and are an egregious affront to the concept of free speech, the administration is now seeking to legalize and institutionalize the very behavior which they previously promised to end. This comes in the form of new IRS regulations being proposed regarding the handling of tax-exempt groups and the content of their speech.
As reported by Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel, IRS Regulation-134417-13, “Guidance for Tax-Exempt Social Welfare Organizations on Candidate-Related Political Activities,” is a proposed new regulation that is an outrageously brazen attempt by the IRS to silence the speech of 501©(4) organizations before the upcoming election. If implemented, the regulation would prohibit a 501©(4) from speaking to matters of public concern during the 2014 election cycle.
In part, the proposed regulation:
Prohibits using words like “oppose,” “vote,” “support,” “defeat,” and “reject;”
Prohibits mentioning, on its website or on any communication (email, letter, etc.) that would reach 500 people or more, the name of a candidate for office 30 days prior to a primary election and 60 days prior to a general election;
Prohibits mentioning the name of a political party 30 days prior to a primary election and 60 days prior to a general election, if that party has a candidate running for office;
Prohibits voter registration drives or conducting a nonpartisan “get-out-the-vote” drive;
Prohibits creating or distributing voter guides outlining how incumbents voted on particular bills;
Prohibits hosting candidates for office at any event, including debates and charitable fundraisers, 30 days prior to a primary election or 60 days prior to a general election, if the candidate is part of the event’s program;
Prohibits distributing any materials prepared on behalf of a candidate for office;
Restricts employees of such organizations from volunteering;
Restricts the ability of officers and leaders of such organizations to make public statements regarding the nomination of judges;
Creates a 90-day blackout period, in an election year, that restricts the speech of §501©(4) organizations;
Declares political activity as contrary to the promotion of social welfare; and
Protects labor unions and trade associations by not including them under the proposed regulations.“
Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) not only does not oppose this abridgment of free speech, he is positively gleeful about the proposed regulations and the damage they will do to the free speech of conservative groups which oppose and expose the reckless spending and violations of constitutional rights being waged by Democrats and this administration. In a press release published on his Senate website, Schumer calls for heavier crackdowns on conservative groups, like the TEA Party, which he says pushes policies that are "the route of the Know-Nothings, Prohibitionists, Father Coughlins, and the Huey Longs, towards anger, negativity and even hatred.”
This latest salvo from the left is just the latest in a growing list of assaults on conservative free speech. The Founding Fathers gave very broad interpretation as to what constitutes free speech, preferring to let even offensive speech be aired in the public square, where it could be exposed for its own vileness by juxtaposing it against truth, rather than have the heavy hand of government be the final arbiter of what is acceptable. Furthermore, the First Amendment protections for free speech were primarily enacted as guarantors of political speech, which was the most important type of speech in this fledgling republic.
Yet today, even as they give reverential deference and a defense of flag burning, profanity, pornography, and stripping as examples of expression that should be protected, they are rabidly opposed to these same protections being extended to conservative political speech. The left justifies the exclusion of conservative thought and speech in the public domain by claiming that it is offensive, or “hate speech”, or some other such categorization that makes it unworthy.
For those that doubt this assertion, simply go up to your nearest liberal friend and tell them that you think the Supreme Court ruled correctly in the Citizens United case. Watch their apoplectic response; see their eyes bulge, their fists clench, and their mouths start to foam. Watch as they fly into a rage and rant about how evil corporations and shady, corrupt power brokers like the Koch Brothers are ruining the democratic process and crushing the voice of the people.
Then watch their impotent rage and frustration when you point out that, of the Top 25 organizations that give the most in political donations, a staggering nineteen (76%) give a majority of their money to DEMOCRATS, and six of the top ten (and ten of the top 14) heaviest donors are labor unions, which give virtually nothing (between 0-9%) to Republicans, but heavily “invest” in the Democrats, who return the favor by doling out billions in taxpayer dollars to their organizations. As for the evil, hated Koch Brothers, who are supposedly ruining our “democracy” with their corrupt money? They rank…#59.
Yet as exposed previously, these free speech-crushing regulations would exempt labor unions, which would still get to funnel hundreds of millions of dollars to Democrats, and still get to mobilize an army of union members to engage in political activities for Democrats, all under the color of law.
You see, liberals think it is horrible for SCOTUS to allow people who organize for a common cause (corporations) the same right to use their money for political advocacy as another group that has organized for a common cause (labor unions).
In another example, the Obama administration’s FCC (Federal Communications Commission) is considering placing the equivalent of zampolits (political officers embedded in the Soviet army to report on and punish speech critical of the Soviet government) into newsrooms around the country, ostensibly to “identify and understand the critical information needs of the American public, with special emphasis on vulnerable-disadvantaged populations.” To translate that from its native liberalese, that means they will be monitoring for conservative speech or leanings for the purpose of censoring and punishing it.
Liberals and Democrats (but I repeat myself) would do well to remember that political power is fleeting and cyclical. Two years after former Clinton adviser James Carville declared the beginning of forty years of Democrat rule (following the 2008 elections which gave Democrats unchallenged control of the House, Senate, and White House), the TEA Party helped propel Republicans to the single largest single-election gains by a party in nearly a century. Likewise, with ObamaCare a disaster, the economy in shambles, and unemployment/underemployment remaining frustratingly high, Republicans are poised to make significant gains in November, and potentially retake the White House in 2016.
If that happens, liberal Democrats will have no credibility, and little sympathy, if a Republican president and Congress decide to continue this precedent set by Obama and the Democrats to crush their political enemies and ignore the Constitution and the rule of law. Karma is a bear…