Liberalism and free speech

Any liberal coalition I’d consider joining will have to take a strong position on free speech. This will set it clearly apart from both the progressives and the Trumpists.

Both Clinton and Trump wanted Citizens United overturned, for personal and vindictive reasons. Clinton was the loser in the case, and consequently couldn’t have a video that criticized her censored. Her stated first priority for the Supreme Court was that any judge she appointed had to overturn the lawsuit she lost. She wanted a judge who’d put her bidding above the Constitution.

Trump is in favor of anything that could let him restrict free speech. Citizens United is particularly inconvenient for him, because it affirms the right of groups of people to combine their resources. If he can get a court ruling that says that people don’t retain their Constitutional rights when they form corporations, that gives him lots of opportunities. Before he was elected, it also would have given him, and other rich people, a tactical advantage; he’d still be free to spend his own billions on any cause, while others would have to rely on their lesser, unpooled personal resources.

Progressives would like to create a “hate speech” exception to the First Amendment. Sometimes they claim it already exists, and that the courts refuse to recognize it. “Hate speech” is a conveniently undefined term and can justify censorship of any strong opinion.

Trump has said he’s going to “open up the libel laws.” This implies he claims personal authority over state legislation. His explicit purpose is to intimidate the news media.

The United States has gotten many things wrong over the years, but since the second half of the twentieth century it’s had about the best record of any country on free speech. We need to keep it.

This is the second of an indeterminate series of posts on building a liberal coalition to counter progressivism, religious conservatism, and Trumpism.

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