Nel's New Day

October 23, 2017

The Dying Constitution

Filed under: Constitution — trp2011 @ 10:19 PM
Tags: , , ,

Regarding the First Amendment, Washington Post provided a look of surveys about freedoms that people have long taken for granted. The First Amendment reads:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

An annual survey published last month by the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg Public Policy Center:

  • 37 percent of Americans cannot name even one of the five rights guaranteed under the First Amendment.
  • Half of those surveyed named freedom of speech but no others.
  • Only 26 percent of respondents could name the three branches of government, down from 38 percent in 2011.
  • 39 percent support allowing Congress to stop the news media from reporting on any issue of national security.
  • Only 49 percent oppose this prior restraints, down from 55 percent last year.

Repetition makes false information sink into some people’s brains. According to a Politico-Morning Consult Poll:

  • 46 percent of registered voters believe major news organizations fabricate stories about him.
  • Only 37 percent of Americans think the mainstream media does not invent stories, while the rest are undecided.
  • Over 75 percent of Republicans believe reporters make up stories about Trump.
  • 28 percent of people want the federal government to have the ability to revoke the broadcast licenses of major news organizations if it says they are fabricating news stories about the president or the administration. (Only 51 percent think the government should not be able to do that.)
  • 46 percent of Republicans think the government should have the power to revoke licenses if it says stories are false. (They should be careful what they wish if a law like this can revoke Fox’s license.)

A national survey conducted by the Newseum Institute in May:

  • 23 percent think the First Amendment “goes too far.”
  • 74 percent do not think “fake news” should be protected by the First Amendment.
  • 43 percent of respondents felt that colleges should have the right to ban controversial campus speakers.
  • Only 59 percent believe that religious freedom should apply to all religious groups. Among those between the ages of 18 to 29, just 49 percent support equal protection for all religious faiths, compared to over 60 percent for every other age group.

An online survey of 1,500 undergraduate students at U.S. four-year colleges and universities in the last week by Brookings senior fellow John Villasenor:

  • Only 39 percent of respondents said that the First Amendment protects “hate speech,” while 44 percent said it does not.
  • 62 percent had the mistaken belief that, under the First Amendment, an on-campus organization hosting an “offensive” speaker is legally required to ensure that there is also a speaker who presents an opposing viewpoint.
  • 19 percent said it is acceptable for a student group to use violence to prevent a guest speaker it opposes from appearing on campus.

A Pew Research Center study from 2015:

  • 40 percent of millennials accept the government preventing people from making unspecified statements that are “offensive to minority groups.”

YouGov poll for the libertarian Cato Institute, released two weeks ago:

  • 40 percent of people think government should prevent people from engaging in hate speech.
  • 46 percent would support a law making it illegal to say offensive things about African Americans.
  • 41 percent would ban insults for Jews.
  • 40 percent would ban insults for immigrants and military-service members.
  • 39 percent would ban insults for Hispanics.
  • 37 percent would ban insults for Muslims.
  • 36 percent would ban insults for LGBTQ people.
  • 35 percent would ban insults for Christians.
  • 51 percent of Democrats would favor a law “requiring people to refer to a transgender person by their preferred gender pronouns and not according to their biological sex.”

Republicans wave the Constitution in front of people just as they do the flag, but they don’t necessarily follow it. More from the Cato Institute:

  • 36 percent of Republicans would support prohibiting offensive public statements aimed at the police.
  • 72 percent of Republicans want a law to punish people for burning or desecrating the U.S. flag.
  • 53 percent of Republicans favor “stripping a person of their U.S. citizenship if they burn the American flag.”
  • 67 percent of Republicans favor a law to “prohibit face coverings in public spaces.”
  • Almost 50 percent of Republicans would ban the construction of mosques in their community.
  • 50 percent of Republicans say the press in America has too much freedom to do what it wants.
  • 63 percent of Republicans say  journalists are “an enemy of the American people.”
  • 72 percent of Republicans in the poll said that colleges and universities are not doing enough “to teach young Americans about the value of free speech.”
  • 90 percent of Republicans think political correctness is “a big problem this country has.”

James Hohmann wrote “why these numbers matter”:

“If we lose the confidence that good ideas will overtake bad ones in the marketplace of ideas, if we lose the sense that we may disagree with offensive comments our neighbors say but we’ll defend to the death their right to say them and if we lose the willingness to honestly debate hard issues, then the United States will keep becoming more tribal and, eventually, less free.”

In a 1945 essay, George Orwell wrote:

“If large numbers of people believe in freedom of speech, there will be freedom of speech even if the law forbids it. But if public opinion is sluggish, inconvenient minorities will be prosecuted, even if laws exist to protect them.”

Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE), said:

 “The First Amendment is the beating heart of the American experiment, and you don’t get to separate the freedoms that are in there. You don’t have religion without assembly. You don’t have speech without press. We all need to celebrate all five of those freedoms, because that’s how the ‘e pluribus unum’ stuff works.”

A First Amendment debate arose over the right of athletes to kneel during the national anthem. Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) told the NFL to fire their employees if they did this. DDT may himself be violating the First Amendment if his purpose is to suppress citizen speech. In 1963, the Supreme Court ruled in Bantam Books, Inc. v. Rhode Island that ruled that a Rhode Island commission was engaging in “state censorship.” The purpose of DDT’s verbal campaign has been to suppress speech that offends him.

Merely offensive speech cannot be censored according to a 1989 Supreme Court case protecting flag burning. Justice William J. Brennan, Jr. wrote:

“If there is a bedrock principle underlying the First Amendment, it is that the government may not prohibit the expression of an idea simply because society finds the idea itself offensive or disagreeable.”

Robert Post, Sterling professor at Yale Law School, wrote that DDT’s statements were worse than the Rhode Island’s commission because he is trying to stop “political speech protesting law enforcement’s unfair treatment of minorities.” Using the power of his office, he is threatening NFL owners with paying additional taxes if their athletes continue behavior that offends him. Even if DDT doesn’t take action, a “reasonable” belief that he is using the government to repress speech can still violate the First Amendment.

DDT has sworn an oath to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” A vital part of the Constitution is democratic self-government by “We the people.” “Attacks on the political speech of private citizens … undermines integrity of “We the people.” Divisiveness destroys stability which leads to constitutional failure. Loss of the Constitution means loss of democracy as DDT leads the nation toward authoritarianism.

Civil Rights Advocacy

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. -- Margaret Mead

AGR Daily 60 Second News

Transformational News; What Works For Seven Future Generations Without Causing Harm?

JONATHAN TURLEY

Res ipsa loquitur - The thing itself speaks

Jennifer Hofmann

Inspiration for soul-divers, seekers, and activists.

Occupy Democrats

Progressive political commentary/book reviews for youth and adults

V e t P o l i t i c s

politics from a liberal veteran's perspective

Margaret and Helen

Best Friends for Sixty Years and Counting...

GLBT News

Official news outlet for the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Round Table of ALA

The Extinction Protocol

Geologic and Earthchange News events

Central Oregon Coast NOW

The Central Oregon Coast Chapter of the National Organization for Women (NOW)

Social Justice For All

Working towards global equity and equality

Over the Rainbow Books

A Book List from Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Round Table of the American Library Association

The WordPress.com Blog

The latest news on WordPress.com and the WordPress community.

%d bloggers like this: