If Congress can’t make the Constitution mean what they want it to mean, they’ll try changing it to say what they want it to say.

Democrats just announced their plans to rewrite the First Amendment’s protection of free speech.  S.J. Res 19 will propose an amendment to the Constitution giving Congress the power to regulate political contributions of all kinds.  In stark contrast to the amendments under consideration for a Convention of States, the U.S. Congress wants to pass one further expanding their power and silencing the voice of the people.

This is an acknowledged attempt by Congress to reverse the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision on campaign spending.  Congress wants to give itself the power to limit who can spend how much money on campaigns and what they can say.

Such an amendment would overturn Supreme Court precedent clear back to 1976, when campaign spending was ruled a form of political speech, protected by the First Amendment.  In passing the proposed amendment, Congress would attempt to bypass the Supreme Court completely.  Yet the Court is, after all, the branch of government granted the power to interpret the Constitution and determine the validity of laws passed by Congress.

Not only do Congressional Democrats need a refresher on the meaning of “balance of powers,” this proposal shows they are not nearly as enthusiastic about the Constitution and the Bill of Rights as many would claim.  As Lloyd Green rightly assesses, “More often than not, politicians think free speech is a fine thing so long as you agree with them.”

Everyone’s favorite Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid, vocally supported such an amendment.  He named the Koch brothers as the primary reason this amendment is needed.  Reid seems to blame these wealthy, conservative businessmen for anything he doesn’t like.  Climate change, opposition to Obamacare, slowing aid to Ukraine, failed minimum wage hikes, and the Republican budget – responsibility for all these was placed on the Koch brothers.  Strange that he didn’t mention any big funders of Democrats, however.

The Wall Street Journal says:

The larger story here is how far the American left is willing to go to cripple their political opponents. They’re even willing to write a giant loophole into America’s founding charter so Congress can limit political speech. The Tea Party’s concerns about eroding liberty turn out to be more accurate than even its most devoted partisans imagined.

According to the Washington Times, “Mr. Reid and his fellow Democrats say the government should have the ability to decide who can spend money in elections and how much they are allowed to spend.”

Hold on.  Who decides?  We’re pretty sure that’s supposed to be the people.  Not members of Congress, who are meant to represent the people.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is fed up with Reid and the Democrats’ tactics.  “At least you have to give them marks for consistency,” he says. “They are already muzzling our constituents by blocking amendments. Now they want to muzzle them even more by changing the Bill of Rights. This is completely out of control.”

The actual wording of the proposed amendment reads, “Congress shall have power to regulate the raising and spending of money and in-kind equivalents with respect to federal elections.”  It’s the phrase “in-kind equivalents” that opens the door wide for regulating political speech.

An alert sent by the Center for Individual Freedom explains that the phrase could include any action or speech that Congress deems beneficial to any federal political candidate.  Web comments, private conversations, public criticism of the government – all of these, in addition to monetary donations, would be regulated by Congress.

As Green says, “In plain English that’s called censorship.”  Though a section of the resolution explicitly preserves freedom of the press, a guarantee for freedom of speech is conspicuously missing.

If this passes, we’d be looking at Campaign Limits 2.0 where Congress would have authority not just to limit monetary donations and political speech, but would also be vested with the power of enforcement.  Later laws could be passed to silence offenders, impose fines, and even jail those who are too vocal.

The government would literally have the power to punish its citizens for disagreeing with current office-holders.  That would really be a war on political dissent.

Will we let this happen?