A Democratic senator admits she doesn’t believe in free speech

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In a television interview Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisconsin) insisted that the first amendment does not apply to individuals, and that the government thus has the right to limit both their speech and religious freedoms.

Her position is that the first amendment only protects institutions. This despite the clear wording of the amendment itself, which simply says

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

I don’t see any distinction made between institutions or individuals. Moreover, the courts have repeatedly ruled that these freedoms apply to everyone, individuals, institutions, everyone. Someone with even the slightest knowledge of history, both American, British, and that of all of western civilization, should also know that the battle for liberty of conscience was a battle to expressly give individuals that freedom, not institutions.

Interestingly, the article notes that in another context Baldwin has also said that she doesn’t believe it right that the first amendment protects institutions. She was part of the Democratic Party effort in the Senate in 2013 to repeal the first amendment to allow Congress the right to limit the speech of corporations.

So, to sum up, she thinks individuals aren’t given first amendment rights by the first amendment, and that the institutions that do should be denied those first amendment right as well. Sadly, her position appears to becoming more popular both with Democratic elected officials as well as the public that votes for them.


  • Cotour

    This is the intellectualization of the Constitution. Yes, the Supreme Court has created “context” but does that new context now totally usurp an individuals right to their primary religious beliefs in being essentially forced to participate in something that is religiously abhorrent to them?

  • pzatchok

    I hope this democrat and those like her get all they want.

    The sooner the better.

  • I suspect I understand what you are saying, but I think you should elaborate.

    For a long time, going back to Bill Clinton’s administration, I have wished the Democrats would simply stop disassembling and say and do what they really think. I think Tammy Baldwin, along with the rest of the Democrats in the Senate, have finally begun to say what they think. Are you suggesting they should begin to do it, to aggressively deny the rights of others in order to show their true hand to the public so that it might rise up and kick them out of office?

    If so, I note that they have already begun to do it as well, with the actions of the FCC, the IRS, the EPA, and numerous agencies, as I have reported here repeatedly. Unfortunately, the public has not risen up, but instead seems sheeplike and compliant.

  • Max

    Freedom is only for the collective? Freedom is no longer free? We must have a license or pay a fee? Conditional freedom is slavery. I wonder if she has ever read or understood this document.

    We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

    That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

  • pzatchok

    You get it exactly.

    The problem with the regulations of the alphabet agencies is that for the most part they only directly effect a few people.
    You have to watch things pretty close to notice the changes that have not yet effected you and for the most part the masses just don’t care about things that much.

    Because of my interest in firearms and the shooting sports I tend to notice those things that effect it first.
    Such as the similarity between the feds asking the phone companies to keep all the records of all phone calls, even though the federal government is not allowed to get or keep those records themselves, and the AFTs rule that all firearms dealers keep all records of gun sales.

    It is the law that the federal government is not allowed to keep those records but they instead pass it off to a private entity to get around the law. By accepting a federal dealers license all of your records can be inspected on site at any time. They can not be removed but they can eventually be subpenaed as evidence into a court of law.

  • D.K. Williams

    Of all the excesses of the current Administration, perhaps the most heinous is its multi-layered attack on free speech and religious liberty. An alphabet soup of Federal agencies has been corrupted in this effort. God help us if the liberals get another Supreme Court justice.

  • Max

    The president and Congress use the alphabet agencies as a buffer between them and the people. In this way they have plausible deny ability of any wrongs that they need ( want ) to be performed so it doesn’t come back to haunt them. Politicians want to stand before the people white as snow blameless for all the crimes being committed in the governments name. They want to say “I didn’t authorize or vote for that” when they stand back and do nothing to prevent it. They have the power to rain in the alphabet soup agencies but in truth they’re doing exactly as instructed ! Congress has the power to act, and they are abusing their power not to act. We all know what happens when good men do nothing.
    “By their fruits you shall know them”

  • Cotour

    The answer to your question: ” I wonder if she has ever read or understood this document?” Is NO.

    There is a segment of the population that believe that what they emotionally believe is what the Constitution means. That of course is an ignorant interpretation of the document. This woman and many, many others including the indoctrinated youth allow themselves to over intellectualize the Constitution and there in can make it mean what ever they think it should mean as it serves their emotions at the moment. The document says what it means and means what it says.

    The people have primary rights and government must not infringe on those rights.

  • PeterF

    Bob, you have inadvertently stepped directly upon one of my pet peeves,

    “she thinks individuals aren’t given first amendment rights by the first amendment”

    I myself don’t think individuals are given the right of free speech by the first amendment.

    I fear I may be considered somewhat of a boor because I find myself constantly correcting people when they improperly refer to their “rights given by the [insert number here] amendment”.

    I know its easier to say “first amendment right” than “inalienable right of free speech” but to say that something is “given” or even “guaranteed” implies that it can just as easily taken away.

    The U.S. Constitution is largely silent on specific individual rights and limitations because its purpose is to describe the government and its limitations only. One of the fears when they drafted the “Bill of Rights” was that tyrannical despots would use them to limit liberty to what had been enumerated and the people would forget that it was assumed that you have the right to act in any way that was not specifically prohibited.

    This would appear to be a common sentiment today among the progressive movement and has lately even been surpassed because clearly worded legislation has been adjudicated to mean whatever a five person majority on the Supreme Court says it means. They seem have forgotten that America is Good and America is Strong because we are a “Nation of Laws”, not a “Nation of Men”. They clearly do not understand that if they bend the Constitution to the point of failure they will no longer be protected by it.

    I fear that if pzatchok’s statement “I hope this democrat and those like her get all they want.” comes true, then ALL of us will suffer because of the dystopia that will ensue. Personally, I do not wish to live beyond Thunderdome.

    Please forgive me for the tangental rant off the topic of what a sorry excuse of a representative Tammy Baldwin is.

  • You are of course correct. The first amendment does not give us a right to free speech, it says that Congress is forbidden from taking away a right that we are born with.

  • Edward


    That is not as far off topic as you seem to believe. Although the US Constitution guarantees that the government cannot take away our rights, Tammy Baldwin clearly believes that the Constitution is written differently, perhaps written the way the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) is written: as though the document confers rights upon the people.

    Not only can rights that are conferred upon a people be removed by the same governing body that granted the rights, the UDHR explicitly states in Article 29, part 3 that any of the rights it confers can be violated merely by decreeing that it is being exercised contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations. It is written subtly, but Article 29 negates any part or the entire UDHR at a whim. It would not be hard for Baldwin to invoke Article 29 to deny individuals or organizations (or both) the right to speak their minds. It is much harder (but as we have discovered, not impossible) to misinterpret the US Constitution to deny us our rights.

    This distinction is important, and your pet peeve is important to point out to people as loudly and as often as you can. As you noticed, even those who value the Constitution can make the common mistake of mis-phrasing the intent of the Bill of Rights, “that [we] are endowed by [our] Creator with certain unalienable Rights.”

    Too often, people like Baldwin manage to brainwash us into phrasing it the way she wants it to be.

    Notice that the US Constitution does not allow the government the freedom to declare that the rights it protects may be violated for any reason. No clause is unwise enough to say anything as pro-tyranny as the UDHR’s Article 29. Either the Founding Fathers were smarter than those who framed the UDHR, or the latter group was disingenuous in creating their document. Or both.

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