Thursday, July 10, 2008

Free Speech of U.S. Representatives & Senators at Risk

Bill Smith, Editor: U.S. Senate sources identified today that the Democrat leadership is seeking and developing actions to restrict the free speech of U.S. Representatives and Senators with both the public and their constituents. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi promised the most “open and honest Congress” when Democrats took over Congress at the beginning of last year. However, a majority Democrats have continually demonstrated that they don’t intend to live up to that pledge. In addition, online sources, Soren Dayton and Ed Morrissey are reporting that Democrat-controlled rule-making bodies in the House and Senate are trying to restrict and regulate the use of members’ communications on the Internet.

Ed Morrissey reports on the schemes in both chambers, asking “Why do Congressional Democrats fear free speech?” In the Senate, Rules Committee Chair Diane Feinstein (D-CA) is proposing a rule that would require her panel to essentially become the Internet speech police for the Senate. It would be up to the Rules Committee to “sanction” which websites and forms of communication they deem appropriate for senators to use, and would then require their regulations to apply to any domain not ending in “”

Even worse, the committee is seeking to be able to regulate content since the rule would give it the authority to require the removal of any content it considers in violation of Senate rules.The upshot of this proposal is that senators’ ability to use websites such as YouTube, Facebook, and others to communicate with their constituents and the American public could be jeopardized and the content of those communications subject to approval. On top of that, the rules are vague enough to raise concerns over how they might apply to basic things like guest postings on blogs like RedState and Townhall. No such restrictions exist on any other form of communication like TV and radio interviews or op-eds in newspapers. What is it about free speech online that Democrats find so threatening?

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