Who is it attends Machiavelli’s Masquerade? Bipartisan and conservative politicians— so called who, in a pretense of good will, mask ambitions if found out would take them down to ruin. In Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the U.S. Supreme Court, declared unconstitutional the McCain-Feingold Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002, a bill enacted by Congress and signed by former President George Bush. The Bill was enacted to criminalize free speech.
In January of 2008 filmmaker David Bossie attempted to market a documentary entitled Hillary: The Movie. The Federal Election Commission concluded that the movie was illegal under campaign finance laws and upon threats of civil and criminal prosecution, prohibited its airing or advertisement. Mr. Bossie filed suit. The U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear the case. In a 5/4 decision it condemned a Congressional attempt to begin the abrogation, in bits and pieces, of the First Amendment. Justice Kennedy, writing for the majority, struck it down.
"When Government seeks to use its full power, including the criminal law, to command where a person may get his or her information or what distrusted source he or she may not hear, it uses censorship to control thought. This is unlawful. ... The First Amendment confirms the freedom to think for ourselves…."political speech must prevail against laws that would suppress it… We find no basis for the proposition that, in the context of political speech, the Government may impose restrictions on certain disfavored speakers."
In passing the bill, Congress, in an expression of bipartisan and conservative guile, placed itself beyond the reach of the constraints imposed on it by the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights. It does not take a Constitutional scholar to figure out that the drafters of the First Amendment intended that, “Congress shall make no law… abridging the freedom of speech.” The Supreme Court pointed out the glaringly obvious fact that Congress passed a law abridging the freedom of speech— an act of hubris as repugnant to the First Amendment and it is to the Republic. Really, how could anyone fail to understand this plain, powerful and elegant sentence? “Congress shall make no law… abridging the freedom of speech.”
Is there a question members of Congress and the President were careful not to ask? Indeed yes. Upon what pretense of constitutional interpretation may Congress, intent upon the effacement of freedom of speech, declare itself beyond the reach of a First Amendment written expressly to forbid it this abhorrent power? Congress, after all, may not legislate in defiance of the Constitution a sovereign people breathed into life.
That said, what part of the First Amendment did the bipartisan and conservative members of Congress and the President not get? Certainly, its language is clear, plain, simple and mandatory. The Constitutional prohibition against Congressional infringement of free speech is the first of a series of amendments written to insure forever that American freedoms be now and forever sacrosanct. Indeed, it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that those who passed and signed the McCain/Feingold Bill into law either knew they were mounting an attack upon the authority and relevance of an august Constitution, or subscribed to Humpty Dumpty’s rhetorical theory that “Words mean what I say they do. No more, and no less.”
Assuming Congress and the President were able to rise above the rhetoric of Lewis Carroll’s nursery rhyme, it follows they must have known the McCain/Feingold Bill, written expressly to abridge free speech, violated the First Amendment. In fact, the ominous inference is that Congress would not have passed the Bill unless its members, bipartisan and conservatives so they say, Democrats and Republicans alike, believed they could pull it off in service to a predatory Congress superior in all ways to its Constitution.
Senators McCain and Feingold, despite syrupy expressions of sentiment, did not legislate for the benefit and protection of the sovereign people that entrusted them with senatorial privilege and power. Instead, they passed a Bill into law intending that it criminalize free speech—just as if the First Amendment had not been writ in plain words—and in defiance of the sovereign people they claim to serve.
The Congress, by violating the First Amendment, took unto itself a power forbidden to it and so, abridged free speech for eight long years. Of course, a majority of politicians predicted, in an alphabet of lurid demagogy, the imminent corporate destruction of democracy and constitutional government—unless the Bipartisan Bill were passed, and passed quickly too. Congress, however, has no right to defy the Constitution in the service of its will to power.
The conservative wing of the Supreme Court destroyed a bill passed by a rogue Congress. Buy it did so just barely. Had President O’bama placed just one more Justice on the Supreme Court, a Constitution, now defaced, and subject by a dangerous precedent, to further degradation, would be for all of us the new law of the land. It should surprise no one that Justice Sonia Maria Sotomayor voted with the leftist phalanx of dissenting justices. President O’Bama, of course, has condemned the Supreme Court’s ruling. At the State of the Union Address, Democrats stood and cheered his excoriation of the Supreme Court Justices seated before him.
It should serve as a warning to Americans that Congress managed to declare the expression of free speech, for eight long years, illegal and subject to criminal prosecution. It’s not over, of course; this is just the beginning. Americans will see again its Congress and President contest the Bill of Rights. What then is next: the criminalizing of whatever Congress decides, from time to time, is hate speech? Perhaps you object to tax increases or government mandated health care. Well, isn’t your objection, cleverly construed, really a species of rhetorical hate? Then too, members of Congress have characterized Tea Party protesters as fascists, as hooded, cross-burning klaners, as ignorant, angry, racists and sycophants. For such as these, who live beyond the official pale, what could be fairer than that Congress pass a law to shut them up—or put them in jail? Perhaps Congress will pass a bill to tell us precisely when and what we may safely say, when we must say it and when we must be silent. After all, other countries have been as helpful and precise, Stalin’s Soviet Union for example or Mussolini’s Italia.
What is to be done? Watch carefully what is said and done by Congress, its President; and above all keep them close. Listen critically to their words. Ignore their classic rhymes, and lyric prose; tune out their vaulting presidential elegance— and listen more closely still to him who claims to be our voice. For their message, well polished, in meters fine and strong, is sung by men and women wearing masks.
Oh, and take them down to ruin with your vote.