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Perkins Links Citizens United to Sudanese Barbarism

Tony Perkins had Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas on his radio show this week and he made the absolutely bizarre argument that the death sentence of a Christian Sudanese woman is related to the Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United. See if you can follow this logic:

Speaking on his radio program, “Washington Watch,” Perkins chastised Democratic leaders like Chuck Schumer — who Perkins said “thinks he understands freedom better than America’s Bill of Rights” — and Mark Udall for opposing the Supreme Court’s 2010 decision.

“The National Archives will need more than bombproofing to protect America’s founding documents,” he warned. Perkins then invited Sen. Pat Roberts onto the show to discuss the proposed amendment.

The Kansas Republican thanked Perkins for not only defending Citizens United but also bringing attention to the imprisonment of Meriam Yehya Ibrahim, a Sudanese woman married to an American who is in jail in Sudan for converting to Christianity. Perkins replied that the two cases are actually related: “The two of them are very connected. In our First Amendment we have our freedom of religion and freedom of speech and we keep our freedom of religion by working to keep our freedom of speech, and political speech is actually what’s under attack here.”

Roberts accused Senate Democrats of trying to “restrict the free speech of those who simply disagree with them.”

So. Much. Stupid. Spending money is not political speech. And the restrictions on campaign spending apply to Republicans and Democrats alike, which makes that last claim by Roberts a ridiculous lie.

Comments

  1. StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! says

    See if you can follow this logic

    Nope. No logic there I can see, just a massive non-sequiteur and throwing up an irrelevancy with no connection at all.

    Quite an unappetising word salad actually.

  2. eric says

    Spending money is not political speech.

    Is too! Not allowing me to buy and use a bullhorn is exactly the same as ripping out my tongue! [/snark]

  3. marcus says

    Hey! Neither the poor nor the rich have any legal restrictions on how much money they can spend on political campaigns.
    So, it’s like totally fair!
    Oh, and Religious Persecution!

  4. eric says

    The political system of democracy invented 2,500 years ago simply cannot operate and will utterly fail unless citizens are allowed to advertise their opinions on television!

  5. Mr Ed says

    When I go to a town meeting I have certain restrictions on my free political speech, I have to be recognized by the moderator and I have to follow Robert’s Rules. The idea that restrictions are wrong would lead to everyone shouting and only those who could afford the most powerful megaphone being heard.

    You can’t petition the government if you can’t be heard.

  6. rabbitscribe says

    “Spending money is not political speech. “

    Yes it is. Maybe it shouldn’t be. Maybe someday it won’t be anymore. But for now, it is.

  7. D. C. Sessions says

    And let’s not forget that in the absence of a quid pro quo exchange, there’s no corruption. So when Charles Koch wants to petition his Senators, as basic a First Amendment right as there can possibly be, the Constitution protects his right to do so on the back of a $50,000 check.

  8. eric says

    @6 – while I disagree with citizens united, I think that’s a pretty bad counter-argument. While there may be some gray areas, it is certainly possible most of the time to distinguish between purchases made for communicative purposes and purchases for other purposes. I don’t think citizens united leads to the conclusion that all purchases of goods and services must be legal because we couldn’t possibly separate the speech purchases from the non-speech ones.

  9. jameshanley says

    Spending money is not political speech

    It is an aid to speech, so hindering spending hinders speech rights, just as much as restricting access to abortions hinders abortion rights.

    The Constitution has no guarantee of equal effectiveness of speech, nor does it imply that speech can be limited because it is too effective.

  10. freehand says

    “In its majestic equality, the law forbids rich and poor alike to sleep under bridges, beg in the streets and steal loaves of bread.”
    — Anatole France
    .
    “But they are both expressly allowed to spend a million dollars on a political campaign.”
    — Modesty Forbids

  11. caseloweraz says

    Is voting speech? I would say it is. It certainly is expressing a preference for one candidate over another, although the expression is not made openly (secret ballot and all that.)

    According to the constitutional principle of one man, one vote (to put it in modern terms, one person, one vote), no citizen is entitled to more votes than another in any given election.

    If voting — like money — is speech, then, a case can be made that great disparities in the exercise of speech (i.e. spending on political campaigns) are unconstitutional and should be limited.

  12. eric says

    It is an aid to speech, so hindering spending hinders speech rights, just as much as restricting access to abortions hinders abortion rights.

    Hindering access to medical facilities and doctors hinders abortion rights because abortions are dangerous medical predures. Without that access, people would be forced to risk life and limb to exercise their right. This is not the case with speech. If you can’t advertise on television or purchase other expensive communications services, this does not prevent you from exercising your right to free speech. It doesn’t require you to take any risk or endanger yourself to speak out on political issues.

  13. howardhershey says

    The logic of the Supreme Court clearly is (or will be in this next ruling):
    1) I can use my free speech rights to try to persuade others/politicians to support my views on public matters.
    2) Money is speech.
    Ergo, I can use my money to buy others/politicians to support my views on public matters.

    Is there any kind of corruption/vote-buying that would not be permitted if money really is considered speech?

  14. Michael Heath says

    jameshanley writes:

    The Constitution has no guarantee of equal effectiveness of speech, nor does it imply that speech can be limited because it is too effective.

    This is a really bad argument. We could use this same argument to disqualify a whole host of arguments prior to considering the actual and legitimate crux of issues confronted by the courts. Controversies like competing rights issues or protection of an individual right vs. a state interest to protect the rights of another population that suffers harm when some rights are exercised by others. E.g,.
    a) the Constitution doesn’t protect abortion rights – therefore protection of abortion rights isn’t constitutional or,
    b) the Constitution doesn’t protect people’s security interests relative to my right to carry a loaded machine gun wherever I go.
    Both are true in James’ narrow framework; both are also really bad constitutional arguments because they defectively narrow the framework necessary to make a coherent and constitutional argument.

    I find the “money isn’t speech” argument by liberals equally ludicrous and a form of denialism. Money enables some forms of speech, that’s self-evident. Citizens United is a debate about whether we should infringe upon the speech rights of some individuals in order to advance a state interest, a functioning democracy, and protect the rights of those harmed by some speech.

    We empirically understand that money spent on speech influences elections, in ways that are beneficial and because we protect dishonest speech even when it’s harmful to others, harmful speech as well.

    There is no possible clear policy or constitutional line to be drawn on limiting speech in order to protect our individual democratic rights that are harmed by some speech. And even if one could draw such a line, conditions would change that would make such a line indefensible in the future. So I think this sort of controversy is best decided by legislatures though I agree the courts have a role to play. The problem with our courts is that conservative jurists rarely make coherent constitutional arguments when confronted with a controversy when the GOP is squarely on one side of the issue.

    Please note I don’t defend or attack conservatives supporting striking down Citizens United here; beyond my agreeing that legislatures have authority to regulate political speech that requires speakers to identify themselves. Instead I see a bigger unrelated problem that goes unaddressed. And that’s that we can’t easily punish those who lie. Liars are instead rewarded for lying rather than punished to the point we’re no longer with bombarded dishonest political speech.

    And to SLC1’s point. The sum of all TV political ads I’ve currently observed over the past year or so in the state of Michigan doesn’t even approach the volume of ads I see from the Koch brothers lying about the ACA. James has previously objected to some of us correctly describing the Koch brothers as exemplary of the libertarian movement’s influence on our politics. This observation doesn’t have me criticizing Citizens United; I’m not sure it’s even relevant. Instead it has me becoming further committed to ridding society of dishonesty and becoming increasingly contemptuous of libertarianism; in spite of my once seeking out libertarian perspectives.

  15. theguy says

    The great irony here, of course, is that Mr-friends-with-white-supremacists-Perkins would censor pro-gay speech here in America if he could. IIRC, the FRC was pushing for censorship laws in Uganda and Russia, right?

  16. thebookofdave says

    RWNJ Translator doesn’t make much more sense of it.

    Perkins: Libruls are using a twisted plain-text interpretation of the Constitution to undermine our Gawd-given right to unopposed free speech. We need to find better ways of hiding it.

    Roberts: The problem is there’s too much meat in the system. Until we get rid of the corrupting influence of meat persons and all their meat-based “rights”, capital will never be free to speak against injustice.

  17. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Spending money is not political speech.

    It kind of is. Let me ask this. For the following, please where the dividing line is between “free speech” and “spending money”.

    * I stand on a street corner preaching.
    * I stand on a street corner passing out fliers which I wrote myself, using pencils and paper which I bought myself.
    * I stand on a street corner passing out fliers which I printed at Kinko’s, which I paid for myself.
    * I associate with friends, who each individually uses their own money to print out fliers at Kinko’s, and each individually stand on nearby street corners passing out fliers.
    * Instead of being silly, we work together on the design of the fliers, pool our money to pay Kinko’s for a single printing, and then only some of us stand on street corners passing out fliers.
    * Instead, I offer this service to my friends so they don’t have to participate as much because they’re busy people, and they donate money to me to perform these services.
    * I also accepted donations from strangers to print fliers.
    * I had some friends help collect money and distribute fliers.
    * I paid some strangers to help collect money and distribute fliers.
    * I start a super-pac or whatever.

    Then, replace fliers with “newspaper ad”, “tv ad”, or “blog”. I honestly don’t see where you think where free speech ends and “spending money” begins.

  18. jameshanley says

    Michael Heath, that first paragraph was pretty incoherent. Nothing you said there actually follows logically from what I said. There’s also a sad shallowness in becoming ever more contemptuous of an ideology based on a whole two of its adherents. I’d think a man of your age and education might understand the fallacy of composition.

    Colnago80, and yet those motherhumpers have never even sent me a thank you card!

  19. Michael Heath says

    jameshanley writes to me:

    There’s also a sad shallowness in becoming ever more contemptuous of an ideology based on a whole two of its adherents.

    Two* misrepresentations of what I’ve written in less than 24 hours.

    For the record, my increasing contempt for libertarianism doesn’t come from merely the Koch brothers, but instead how libertarians are now influencing public policy. I’ve repeatedly made that clear.

    It’s also sad to avoid the degree to which these two, and their allies, are influencing public policy; such as my personal observation that their TV ads have recently been on more than all other political ads combined. And that’s been going on for about a year now, not a mere couple of days or weeks.

    It’s my general observation that those who depend on fallacious arguments generally do so in order to maintain positions that can’t be defended. It’s sad you demonstrate that you belong in that camp.

    jameshanley to me:

    that first paragraph was pretty incoherent.

    From someone who clearly misrepresented what another person wrote.

    My re-reading that paragraph has me following along with what I wrote. It is a challenge sometimes to rebut disingenuous arguments as I attempt to do @ 17. I admit I struggled to dive down into the way you narrowly framed your defective argument, where you avoid the broader framework that the courts must properly consider; that being competing rights and state interests. And when they don’t properly consider these factors or misconstrue them, we can predict with high confidence who the usual suspects will be.

    *The other mispresentation of what I wrote: http://goo.gl/mPPPKU

  20. jameshanley says

    Michael Heath,
    I wrote that there’s no constitutional guarantee of equal effectiveness of speech. That means that placed against the explicit constitutional right to free speech, the argument that some speech should be limited because it’s too effective is a bad legal argument. (Possibly it’s a good policy argument, but that’s a different question.)

    You wrote:
    a) the Constitution doesn’t protect abortion rights – therefore protection of abortion rights isn’t constitutional

    Assuming for the sake of argument that you’re right and Roe v. Wade is wrong, this argument is nothing like mine, because protecting abortion rights does not conflict with any clear constitutional rights (unless we agreed the fetus was a “person” under the law). So my argument doesn’t lead to this conclusion because the cases aren’t actually analogous.

    And
    b) the Constitution doesn’t protect people’s security interests relative to my right to carry a loaded machine gun wherever I go.

    This one is so dependent on interpretations that it’s a rigged game. What do we mean by “security interests”? The right to not be shot or robbed at machinegun point? Of course you have that right, and it’s the government’s duty to punish anyone who would shoot or rob you, so with that interpretation your analogy doesn’t hold. The right to not be feel nervous or scared because someone’s carrying a loaded gun? I’m not sure in that case, whether that’s a real constitutional type right or whether that’s like Ed’s “you don’t have the right to not be offended.” I’d have to think on that. But does the 2nd Amendment protect the right to own a machine gun? Your argument assumes it does, but that’s a prettu dubious assumption, right? I meam, it’s certainly not one I’m willing to make, and it’s not remotely as certain, either textually or in case history, as the right to free speeech, so again, as an analogy it falls apart.

    As to religion, you have in fact likened people taking their kids to church to child abuse. IIRC, your point was that it lead them to believe in mystical thinking and undermined logical thinking (with which I am inclined to agree). And while my memory could fail me, I seem to remember you talking about either punishing parents or not allowing them to take their kids to church. Either would require force, and either would (presumably) tend to diminish adherence to religion. So it would in fact be helping religion to diminish through the use of force (although of course you’re not talking about executing religious people).

  21. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    @Michael Heath

    a) the Constitution doesn’t protect abortion rights – therefore protection of abortion rights isn’t constitutional or,

    IMHO, it does. The clear intent of the founders in the document in general, and especially with the 9th amendment, was to protect a whole slew of rights, including abortion rights. Many of the founders, including Jefferson explicitly, understood a notion of limited government which a hundred years later Mill would write on extensively in On Liberty. See Jefferson at:

    The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.

    PS: Note that this should not be understood in the modern language of libertarians. By “harm”, he means to include both negative externalities and positive duties (such as giving testimony in court, or paying taxes for police, etc.).

    @Michael Heath

    b) the Constitution doesn’t protect people’s security interests relative to my right to carry a loaded machine gun wherever I go.

    That’s correct. That’s exactly what the second amendment does.

    The alternative is the borderline incoherent bullshit of Breyer’s dissenting opinion in DC vs Heller.
    http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/07pdf/07-290.pdf
    Breyer suggests that the court adopt some sort of “interest balancing” approach. Scalia here is quite right that this kind of interest balancing is akin to saying that the court is completely free to ignore the second amendment and decide for itself what is the right law. That’s bullshit. The entire point of a constitutional protection is to put it beyond reach of any mere act of congress and any mere decision of the court. It is to enshrine a policy decision as unchangeable except by (another) amendment. The alternative is that our constitutional protections are not worth the paper they are printed on.

    The second amendment specifically states that people’s right to carry a loaded gun wherever they go trumps your right to be safe from gun violence. If you don’t like the law, then change it. Don’t pretend it doesn’t exist. And for the love of god, don’t completely destroy the rule of law by picking and choosing which constitutional protections you think are worth defending and which can be ignored because you happen to disagree.

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