IJ Launches New Free Speech Blog
IJ Launches New Free Speech Blog
“Congress Shall Make No Law” Blog Champions Open Debate & Limited Government
WEB RELEASE: June 24, 2010
John Kramer (703) 682-9320
Bill Maurer (425) 941-7905
Arlington, Va.—Today, the Institute for Justice launched its first blog, “Congress Shall Make No Law,” which complements IJ’s fight, both in courts of law and in the court of public opinion, to defend free speech from government encroachments—particularly so-called “campaign finance” laws. IJ’s free speech blog will be located at www.MakeNoLaw.org.
Simpson warned, “Yet we ignore the right to free speech at our peril. While most people claim to support freedom of speech in principle, far too many groups, politicians and opinion leaders support restrictions on speech in practice, especially in the area of political discourse. IJ plans to use its Congress Shall Make No Law blog to expose these efforts and to fight for free speech wherever it is menaced.”
Bert Gall, an IJ senior attorney who litigates First Amendment cases for the Institute for Justice said, “Speech will remain free in America only if we take First Amendment rights seriously. Unfortunately, even today, attacks on free speech are common.”
These attacks are perhaps nowhere more apparent than in the area of campaign finance law. This term, in Citizens United v. FEC, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a law that severely restricted the ability of corporations to spend money on speech criticizing candidates during an election. The decision was a ringing endorsement of First Amendment principles and their important place in our society.
Citizens United, however, was swiftly and harshly denounced. President Obama accused the Court of reversing “a century of law” and “open[ing] the floodgates for special interests . . to spend without limit in our elections.” The New York Times—a corporation—complained that the decision improperly extended First Amendment rights to corporations. MSNBC commentator Keith Olberman called Citizens United the worst decision since Dred Scott.
James Madison once described free speech as “the right of freely examining public characters and measures which has ever been justly deemed the only effective guardian of every other right.” Yet, more than 200 years later, a U.S. Supreme Court decision upholding the right to “freely examine” the records of politicians has created a nationwide controversy.
Clearly, there is great disagreement about the meaning and purpose of the First Amendment.
“The purpose of this blog is to provide the defense that the First Amendment deserves but far too seldom receives,” said IJ President and General Counsel Chip Mellor. “The Institute for Justice believes the First Amendment means what it says. It protects an individual right to freedom of speech, not a privilege to be tolerated at the governments’ pleasure. Furthermore, the right to speak implies the right to speak effectively, whether by associating with others in a neighborhood group or purchasing expensive advertisements on national television.”
Above all, freedom of speech is a profound value. It is, in a very real sense, the life blood of a modern industrial society. If we ignore it, it can—and will—go away.
Most of the content of this blog will focus on campaign finance laws, because they are among the most pressing threats to freedom of speech today and the least understood. But the Institute for Justice litigates other types of free speech cases, including the defense of commercial speech, and it expects from time to time to comment upon other areas as well.
IJ attorney Bill Maurer, another First Amendment litigator, said, “If you’re looking for informative and provocative commentary about free speech and its defense, you will find it at IJ’s Congress Shall Make No Law blog.”