The First Amendment’s mandate that “Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech” is a guarantee that, no matter how inconvenient to those temporarily holding high office, the people have an absolute right to express their thoughts and opinions. Despite this constitutional requirement, over 200 years ago, President John Adams and the Federalists in Congress used the threat of war with France as a pretext to enact into law the Sedition Act of 1798, which made it a crime for Americans to “print, utter, or publish . . . any false, scandalous, and malicious writing” about the government.
The debate surrounding the Sedition Act was about the nature of freedom of speech. One supporter of the law, Alexander Addison, believed that some opinions were so dangerous that it was in the public interest to suppress them, stating, “Truth has but one side: and listening to error and falsehood is indeed a strange way to discover truth.”
An opponent, Thomas Cooper, presciently argued that the purpose of the Sedition Act was to empower one party to “suppress the opinions of those who differ from them.” Unsurprisingly, all the defendants prosecuted under the Sedition Act would be Republicans.
On Independence Day this year, a federal judge issued a preliminary injunction restricting the Biden Administration from collaborating with social media companies to censor and suppress constitutionally protected speech. In his opinion, Judge Terry Doughty stated that the Biden Administration’s efforts to suppress opinions it opposes “arguably involves the most massive attack against free speech in the United States’ history.” It is difficult to disagree with Judge Doughty’s description.
For years, the Biden Administration demanded social media suppress and censor conservatives who dared question the origins of Covid, the effectiveness of masks and lockdowns, and election integrity, among other issues. The Biden Administration was so zealous in its enforcement of censorship, even parody content did not escape its anti-free speech campaign.
And the Biden administration didn’t ask nicely. When then-White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki publicly called on social media companies to censor speech relating to Covid, she mentioned Biden’s support for a “robust anti-trust program,” all but threatening to break up tech giants if they failed to adopt the administration’s censorship policies. Later, the White House announced that it was reviewing policies relating to whether social media should be held legally liable for spreading so-called misinformation. In other words, the Biden administration effectively told social media “Do our bidding, or else.”
The White House was so aggressive that a Twitter representative stated the site was “bombarded” with censorship requests from the executive branch. But that bombardment was not really directed at Twitter — it was a monstrous attack on the free speech rights guaranteed to every American by the First Amendment.
In addition to countless numbers of Americans, I was targeted by the censorship regime. When I posted a video on YouTube to educate the public on the potentially harmful consequences of relying on ineffective cloth masks to prevent transmission of Covid, YouTube took my video down and suspended me for a week.
Americans are a free people and we do not take infringements upon our liberties lightly. The time has come for resistance and to reclaim our God-given right to free expression. Permit me, as a member of the resistance, to present a solution that that restores and protects the First Amendment.
I introduced legislation called the Free Speech Protection Act, which will prohibit federal employees and contractors from using their positions to censor and otherwise attack speech protected by the First Amendment. My legislation will impose penalties for those that violate this rule, as well as empower private citizens to sue the government and executive branch officials for violating their First Amendment rights. Additionally, the bill will mandate frequent publicly accessible reports detailing the communications between an executive branch agency and media organizations, ensure that federal grant money is not used to label media organizations as sources of misinformation or disinformation, and terminates authorities that threaten free speech.
Under my Free Speech Protection Act, the government will no longer be able to cloak itself in secrecy to undermine the First Amendment rights of conservatives, libertarians, liberals, socialists, and all others who wish to exercise their right to free speech and engage in public discourse.
My legislation will make it difficult to hide efforts to censor constitutionally protected speech. Those officials who censor Americans are on notice: if you infringe upon First Amendment rights, under my bill, you will face severe penalties, such as potential debarment from employment by the United States, a civil penalty of no less than $10,000, and revocation of a security clearance. Any administration employee who prizes his livelihood would not dare threaten free speech after my bill becomes law.
Looking back upon his defeat of John Adams for the presidency, Thomas Jefferson wrote, the “revolution of 1800 . . . was a real revolution in the principles of our government as that of 76.” Jefferson’s victory was a vindication of the First Amendment as he allowed the Sedition Act to expire and pardoned those convicted for expressing their views.
Once again, the American people are called upon to defend the founding principles over which our forebears fought a revolution. To protect free speech, Congress must prohibit the government’s collusion with Big Tech and other media organizations. Congress must pass the Free Speech Protection Act.