Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) warned Tuesday during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing that a constitutional amendment proposed by Democrats could “muzzle” the political speech of liberal as well as conservative groups.
Cruz ticked off a list of advocacy groups on both the left and the right that would be silenced if Congress adopted a long-shot constitutional amendment giving it the “power to regulate the raising and spending of money and in-kind equivalents with respect to Federal elections.”
“Forty-two Democrats have signed their name to a constitutional amendment that would give Congress the power to muzzle Planned Parenthood and the National Right to Life,” he said. “Forty-two Democrats have signed their name to giving Congress the right to muzzle the Sierra Club, to muzzle the the National Rifle Association and the Brady Center on Handgun Violence. To muzzle Michael Moore and Dinesh D’Souza. To muzzle the Teamsters and the National Education Sssociation. To muzzle the NAACP. To muzzle the Anti-Defamation League. To muzzle pastors and priests and rabbis who organize their parishioners to be involved in politics.”
Cruz said the amendment would give Congress the power to ban books and movies, pointing out the the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United centered around a film that was critical of Hillary Clinton. He added that Democratic senators who signed onto the amendment should be “embarrassed” and compared them to the book-burning firemen in author Ray Bradbury’s dystopian novel “Fahrenheit 451.”
Cruz said that he intended to introduce two bills to address “the free speech rights of individuals.” He warned in recent weeks that the Democrats’ proposal was an attempt to “repeal the First Amendment,” a belief Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) echoed in Tuesday’s hearing.
“This is embarrassingly bad, to be advocating for the first time in our history that we amend the First Amendment to restrict the rights of citizens to speak,” McConnell said.