Senators Spar Over Constitutional Amendment Regarding Free Speech

Senators on the Constitution Subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary Committee sparred this week over a proposed amendment to the U.S. Constitution that could have serious repercussions for First Amendment freedoms. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), the top Republican on the panel, was outspoken in opposition, and he was joined by others, including Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT), who suggested that the great danger of this amendment is that it would allow the majority party “to do almost whatever they want to do.” The long-serving Senator noted that this was “one of the worst amendments I’ve ever seen in my life.” 

Ultimately, Senate Democrats advanced this legislation to the full committee with a purely partisan 5-4 vote, but not before they had to defeat a move by Senator Cruz to replace the text of their bill with the language of the First Amendment. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who testified at the hearing on this subject earlier this month, responded, “Washington Democrats have shown time and again how determined they are to shut down the voices of anyone who has a different point of view. Today - and quite remarkably - this determination extended to voting against the text of the First Amendment itself…. [W]hen it comes to free speech, we shouldn’t substitute the incumbent-protection desires of politicians for the protection the Constitution guarantees to all Americans.”

By Aaron Mercer, Vice President of Government Relations

Published: June 20, 2014