Following the cloture vote in the U.S. Senate on S.J. Res 19, the proposed constitutional amendment to amend the First Amendment, Libertarian candidate for U.S. Senate Robert Sarvis released the following statement.
“Freedom of speech is perhaps the most sacred of our constitutional liberties. Today is therefore a sad day, as a majority of Senators, including Mark Warner, voted to drive a stake through the First Amendment.
“Amending the constitution shouldn’t be taken lightly, but that’s just what Mark Warner has done. Today’s cynical vote only took place because of popular misunderstanding and even intentional misrepresentation of the U.S. Supreme Court’s opinion in Citizens United. That decision held that a film about a political candidate is at the very core of free speech, and therefore the censorship of such a film clearly violates the First Amendment. That doesn’t change simply because the film was produced by citizens who organize themselves in the corporate form.
“Americans have sincere and legitimate worries about corruption in our politics, but incumbent politicians have hijacked those concerns to chill the political speech of their opponents and insulate elected officials from criticism.
“The real solutions to ending political corruption are limiting government power and breaking the two-party system through the electoral process. After all, the special-interest money isn’t flowing into my campaign. It’s all going to Mark Warner and Ed Gillespie. The real problem is that the government has too much power to provide special privileges and sweetheart deals to favored groups.
“The proposed constitutional amendment also contains an exemption for the press, which perpetuates a disturbing double standard. Mark Warner is perfectly happy to allow some corporations to spend their money endorsing him so long as they are the right corporations. Newspapers should absolutely have the right to advocate for the election of a candidate for office, but so should other corporate entities, including nonprofit advocacy groups.
“My Republican opponent Ed Gillespie is just as hypocritical. When he was Chairman of the Republican National Committee, Ed Gillespie asked the Federal Election Commission to enact onerous new regulations to stifle the political speech of the Bush Administration’s political opponents. That’s because back then the popular boogeyman was George Soros. Now it’s the Koch Brothers. The only thing that’s changed is who is in the White House.
“I’m the only candidate in the race who won’t play politics with the First Amendment. I stand fiercely with the entire Bill of Rights, fathered by Virginia’s James Madison and George Mason, against the depredations of self-interested politicians like Mark Warner. I also renew my call to both of my opponents to accept the invitation to a three-candidate debate at the University of Mary Washington.”