LTE: Revised H.R.1 Has a Plan for a Government Speech Czar

October 4, 2021   •  By David Keating   •    •  

This Letter to the Editor originally appeared in The Wall Street Journal on October 4, 2021. 

The new Democratic voting- and speech-regulation bill dropped the idea of switching “the Federal Election Commission to an odd number of seats.” Unfortunately, it proposes an even worse approach (“The Enormity of Manchin’s Skinny H.R.1,” Review & Outlook, Sept. 22).

Today, it takes the votes of four of the six FEC commissioners to initiate an investigation or find a campaign violation. The skinny H.R.1 would hand that power to the agency’s general counsel, an employee not subject to Senate confirmation. Historically, the FEC general counsel takes the most speech-restrictive interpretation of the law. Overriding a decision would take four votes to stop, rather than start, most enforcement actions.

In a 2007 opinion, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote, “Where the First Amendment is implicated, the tie goes to the speaker, not the censor.” The bill makes the general counsel a speech czar, with a tie going to the censor.

David Keating

President, Institute for Free Speech



David Keating

Share via
Copy link
Powered by Social Snap