Senate Democrats want to dramatically curtail freedom of speech by passing a constitutional amendment to override the Citizens United Supreme Court ruling.
While their efforts won’t get far while the GOP controls both the White House and the Senate, such a bill could easily be passed into law if the Democrats win back the Senate and the presidency in the upcoming 2020 election.
Citizens United ruling doesn’t just impact how much money a company or union can give to a presidential campaign. It also impacts how organizations, unions, companies and other entities can diffuse information about political topics. Before Citizens United, only large news organizations such as CNN could dedicate as much time and as many resources as desired to covering election-related topics. Other organizations, groups of activists or even companies that got “too involved” in local elections faced legal action. This would be the case again if Citizens United were overturned.
Of course, Democrats pushing the Democracy for All Amendment aren’t being honest about all the implications. Instead, they are telling voters that the Amendment would ensure that every single person has an equal voice at the ballot box. However, that is already the case as Citizens United does not have an impact on how many people vote. Voting is something that can be done by each American citizen over the age of 18, no matter where he or she lives or how much money he or she has.
More to the point, how much money a candidate receives and spends does not necessarily determine the outcome of the race in question. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spent nearly twice as much money as President Trump did in the 2016 elections, and she still lost. If Democrats actually mean that their bill is meant to give everyone equal influence in the political debate, then the truth is they would need a far more Draconian bill than the Democracy for All Amendment. It is next to impossible to ensure that every single person in the nation has the exact same amount of say in any electoral contest.
As most voters already know, people who live in swing states could be seen as having “more of a say” than people who live in solidly red or blue states. Organizations that run their own alternative news sources or that have large social media followings will naturally have more of an impact on electoral debates than a single independent voter or two. Even liberal Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan realized this fact when she wrote in a law review article that “the government cannot restrict the speech of some in order to enhance the speech of others.”
Unfortunately, restricting the speech of some is exactly what Democrats want to do. The Democracy for All Amendment isn’t about stopping large companies from getting involved in politics. Many Democrats benefit from political donations from large corporations, and will probably find ways to continue doing so even if Citizens United is overturned.
Instead, the dangerous Democracy for All Amendment is about restricting the First Amendment rights of certain organizations. Conservative groups that run alternative news sites or use large amounts of funds to publicize their views would be targeted by the proposed amendment. Wealthy individuals who dare to speak up about politically incorrect topics could face legal action.
The Citizens United Supreme Court ruling actually protects freedom of speech by ensuring that people cannot be taken to court simply because they use their money to spread their views on politics. It protects conservative and liberal voices alike, and tearing that ruling down would essentially put government bureaucrats in charge of political speech, making it possible for any future government to restrict dissenting voices they don’t like.