George F. Will writes: Since Barry Goldwater, in accepting the Republicans’ 1964 presidential nomination, said, “Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice,” Democrats have been decrying Republican “extremism.” Actually, although there is abundant foolishness and unseemliness in U.S. politics, real extremism — measures or movements that menace the Constitution’s architecture of ordered liberty — is rare. This week, however, extremism stained the Senate.
Forty-eight members of the Democratic caucus attempted to do something never previously done: Amend the Bill of Rights. They tried to radically shrink First Amendment protection of political speech. They evidently think extremism in defense of the political class’s convenience is no vice.
The italicized names are of senators on the ballot this November.
Tammy Baldwin (Wis.), Mark Begich (Alaska), Michael Bennet (Colo.), Richard Blumenthal (Conn.), Cory Booker (N.J.), Barbara Boxer (Calif.), Sherrod Brown (Ohio), Maria Cantwell (Wash.), Benjamin Cardin (Md.), Thomas Carper (Del.), Robert Casey (Pa.), Christopher Coons (Del.), Richard Durbin (Ill.), Dianne Feinstein (Calif.), Al Franken (Minn.), Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.), Kay Hagan (N.C.), Tom Harkin (Iowa), Martin Heinrich (N.M.), Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.), Mazie Hirono (Hawaii), Tim Johnson (S.D.), Angus King (Maine), Amy Klobuchar (Minn.), Carl Levin (Mich.), Joe Manchin (W.Va.),Edward Markey (Mass.), Claire McCaskill (Mo.), Robert Menendez (N.J.), Jeff Merkley (Ore.), Barbara Mikulski (Md.), Christopher Murphy (Conn.), Patty Murray (Wash.), Bill Nelson (Fla.), Jack Reed (R.I.), Harry Reid (Nev.), John Rockefeller (W.Va.), Bernard Sanders (Vt.), Brian Schatz (Hawaii), Charles Schumer (N.Y.), Jeanne Shaheen (N.H.), Debbie Stabenow (Mich.), Jon Tester (Mont.), Mark Udall (Colo.), John Walsh (Mont.), Elizabeth Warren (Mass.), Sheldon Whitehouse (R.I.), Ron Wyden (Ore.).
But all 48 Senate co-sponsors are American rarities — real extremists.
The 48 senators proposing to give legislators speech-regulating powers describe their amendment in anodyne language, as “relating to contributions and expenditures intended to affect elections.” But what affects elections is speech, and the vast majority of contributions and expenditures are made to disseminate speech. Read the rest of this entry »