Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) said Thursday that Democrats are making moves to repeal First Amendment rights to free speech and religious liberty.
Cruz was speaking to pastors at a Family Research Council conference when he warned that Democrats were moving to quash political speech and “muzzle” pastors and their communities, according to video of a portion of Cruz’s speech posted online by Right Wing Watch.
“I’m telling you, I’m not making this up,” he said as the audience offscreen gasped. “Sen. Chuck Schumer [D-N.Y.] has announced the Senate Democrats are scheduling a vote on a constitutional amendment to give Congress the plenary power, the unlimited authority to regulate political speech. Because elected officials have decided they don’t like it when the citizenry has the temerity to criticize what they’ve done.”
Cruz was referring to a proposed constitutional amendment from Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM) that would reverse recent Supreme Court rulings invalidating campaign finance limits, including Citizens United and McCutcheon. Schumer said the Senate would vote this year on the constitutional amendment, which seeks to capitalize on the unpopularity of the Citizens United decision in an election year.
The text of the amendment gives Congress the “power to regulate the raising and spending of money and in-kind equivalents with respect to Federal elections.” Cruz said that 41 Democrats signed on to what he characterized as an all-out effort to “repeal the First Amendment.”
“It explicitly says, ‘nothing in this new amendment shall abridge the freedom of the press.’ So the New York Times is protected, but it doesn’t say the same thing about the freedom of speech, it doesn’t say the same thing about religious liberty,” he said. “What it says is that politicians in Washington have unlimited constitutional authority to muzzle each and every one of you if you’re saying things that government finds inconvenient.”
A speech writer and senior aide to Cruz, Amanda Carpenter, sent out a series of tweets Friday that claimed Democrats want to “repeal” the First Amendment “as written:”
Watch below, via Right Wing Watch:
Image via Right Wing Watch
This post has been updated.
Catherine Thompson is a senior editor for Talking Points Memo in New York City. She came to the site in 2013 and reported on national affairs. Previously, she worked as a research assistant to investigative reporter Wayne Barrett. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.