Obama Calls for Amendment Limiting Free-Speech Rights(CNSNews.com) – President Barack Obama endorsed a constitutional amendment that would restrict the free-speech rights of political activist groups by overturning the Supreme Court decision in the landmark Citizens United v FEC case that granted First Amendment rights to corporations.
“Over the longer term, I think we need to seriously consider mobilizing a constitutional amendment process to overturn Citizens United,” Obama wrote during a question and answer session on the website Reddit on Wednesday.
“Even if the amendment process falls short, it can shine a spotlight of the super-PAC phenomenon and help apply pressure for change.”
In its decision, the Supreme Court said that the government could not restrict the free-speech rights of organizations during elections, striking down key provisions of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law.
That law restricted how much money independent political organizations could spend and banned them from engaging in election-related speech 60 days prior to a general election.
In his concurring opinion, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote that the government was arguing for direct censorship of political speech, asking the court to allow the banning of books, pamphlets, and any other type of speech the government deemed necessary.
“The Government urges us in this case to uphold a direct prohibition on political speech,” Roberts wrote. “It asks us to embrace a theory of the First Amendment that would allow censorship not only of television and radio broadcasts, but of pamphlets, posters, the Internet, and virtually any other medium that corporations and unions might find useful in expressing their views on matters of public concern.
“Its theory, if accepted, would empower the Government to prohibit newspapers from running editorials or opinion pieces supporting or opposing candidates for office, so long as the newspapers were owned by corporations—as the major ones are.”
Roberts said that the First Amendment did not simply protect “the individual on a soapbox” but the rights of everyone to engage in political speech.
“The First Amendment protects more than just the individual on a soapbox and the lonely pamphleteer,” he said.