Awwwwww…Poor baby!! Today’s conservative failure is Rep. Steve Chabot of Ohio for having the cameras of private citizens confiscated by police so they couldn’t record his PUBLIC townhall meetings. And then getting back handed by a judge doing something unknown to Republicans: upholding the constitution.
One can only imagine Chabot’s confusion. Republicans are used to having judges side with them regardless of what the Constitution actually says. That would be one of the benefits of the GOP’s plan to block all judicial nominees until a Republican is in the White House, at which point they will stuff the judicial branch with sycophants and ideologues. And it’s worked out pretty well for them so far. Just look at the Supreme Court!
But alas, not every judge is a Right Wing activist and some of them occasionally read (and more importantly, follow) the Constitution.
It is firmly established that the First Amendment’s aegis extends further than the text’s proscription on laws “abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press,” and encompasses a range of conduct related to the gathering and dissemination of information.
The filming of government officials engaged in their duties in a public place, including police officers performing their responsibilities, fits comfortably within these principles. Gathering information about government officials in a form that can readily be disseminated to others serves a cardinal First Amendment interest in protecting and promoting “the free discussion of governmental affairs.” Mills v. Alabama, 384 U.S. 214, 218 (1966).
Moreover, as the Court has noted, “[f]reedom of expression has particular significance with respect to government because ‘[i]t is here that the state has a special incentive to repress opposition and often wields a more effective power of suppression.’” First Nat’l Bank, 435 U.S. at 777 n.11 (alteration in original) (quoting Thomas Emerson, Toward a General Theory of the First Amendment 9 (1966)).
Here’s the most important bit: ‘[i]t is here that the state has a special incentive to repress opposition and often wields a more effective power of suppression.’
That would be YOU, Chabot. You want to speak in public? You want to spread your GOP message of divisive anger and ignorance? Guess what? We all get to see it, too. and then we get to use it against you.
Of course, now that Eric Cantor has started to charge a small fee to attend his townhalls, all the rest of the GOP will follow. Why, you ask? Because if you have to pay, it’s no longer “public” in the legal sense of the word.
Now turn over your cameras! The Republicans need their privacy to lie and spread hate!
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