UCLA law professor Eugene Volokh runs down the free speech-crushing consequences of HJR 90, a proposed constitutional amendment backed by House Democrats including Reps. Theodore Deutch (Fla.), Peter DeFazio (Ore.), and Alcee Hastings (Fla.), which would forbid “for-profit corporations, limited liability companies, or other private entities established for business purposes” from “making contributions or expenditures in any election of any candidate for public office or the vote upon any ballot measure submitted to the people.” As Volokh explains, this would be bad news indeed at places like the New York Times Company:Nearly all newspapers, TV stations, cable networks, and rations (except of course for nonprofits such as NPR) are organized as corporations or other entities established for business purposes.
Under section 3, they “shall be prohibited” from making expenditures “in any election of any candidate ... or the vote upon any ballot measure.” Since to write or print or broadcast anything, newspapers, networks, and broadcasters must spend money, this would ban — not just authorize Congress to ban, but itself ban —
editorials supporting or opposing a candidate or a ballot measure.
This proposed amendment is obviously just the latest feverish response to the Supreme Court's decision in Citizens United v. F.E.C. (2010). That's sort of funny, because despite all the doom-and-gloom commentary about
Citizens United, it's the decision's critics who are now basically calling for the repeal of the First Amendment.
It shouldn't come as much of a surprise. These are the same radical Leftists who re-proposed the ill-named "Fairness Doctrine" and, that having received a royal flushing, are now marketing "local community standards" for broadcasters.
It's just new branding for a very old idea: silence those who oppose an all-powerful, centralized, authoritarian government of the sort our nation's founders despised.
Hat tip: Reason.