GOP Seeks to Destroy First Amendment and Democracy Itself


Category:  News & Politics

Via:  don-overton  •  last year  •  17 comments

GOP Seeks to Destroy First Amendment and Democracy Itself
As Don Draper, the central character of AMC’s hit show Mad Men, likes to say, “If you don’t like what’s being said, change the conversation.” For the GOP across the nation these days, though, the prevailing attitude is more to the effect of, “If you don’t like what’s being said, repress the conversation.”

S E E D E D   C O N T E N T

The GOP will fight to the death for the Second Amendment, allowing anybody to buy and possess deadly weapons. This uncritical advocacy has, of course, resulted in a string of mass shootings in the United States, costing many American lives.

When it comes to the First Amendment, however, the GOP doesn’t find the Constitution quite so precious or worth upholding.

The   West Virginia State Senate   last May 30 passed legislation outlawing public school teacher strikes and authorizing the firing of public workers, beyond just teachers, who strike. The legislation heads to the Republican-led State House on June 17 for consideration.

This legislation reads as a retaliation aimed at teachers for their historic statewide strike last year shutting down public schools for nine days. Teachers were protesting a decade-long pay freeze which the state offered to “ameliorate” with a small pay increase accompanied by pension reductions and substantial increases in health care premiums.

The West Virginia teachers’ actions set off a series of teachers’ strikes in Arizona, Kentucky, Colorado, and Oklahoma.

While West Virginia teachers spearheaded a widespread fervor of democracy in action, now the West Virginia GOP is spearheading a counter-fervor of anti-democratic repression.

Remember when thousands of indigenous and environmental activists gathered in   North Dakota in late 2016   to protest the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline? The protest enjoyed a temporary success when then-President Barack Obama’s administration withheld a permit needed for construction of the pipeline to continue. The victory was short-lived, as Trump swept into office and reversed the decision.

These protests triggered a   GOP counter-attack   aimed at repressing protests in the future and disarming democracy, and gutting the First Amendment.
Oklahoma, a state dependent on the fossil-fuel industry, pre-emptively passed a law in 2017 making it a felony to enter pipeline property to “impede or inhibit operations of the facility.” If the activist succeeded in impeding operations, the penalty could be ten years in jail in addition to a $10,000 fine.

Similar laws   denying protesting “critical infrastructure” passed in South Dakota and North Dakota, and legislations mirroring Oklahoma’s have been enacted in Iowa and Louisiana, while also being introduced in Indiana and Illinois, for a total of fifteen states thus far experiencing this legislative onslaught on the democratic rights of protest.

American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), an industry-backed organization, adopted Oklahoma’s bill as model legislation and has been a force in   spreading this legislation to other states . The bills have typically inspired and lobby-efforts from such industry heavy-weights as Energy Transfer, Enbridge, and TransCanda, the company behind the Keystone XL pipeline.

This legislation has a chilling effect on activist efforts to engage in the kinds of protest and democratic action that we saw at Standing Rock around the Keystone XL pipeline project.

Critics of this legislative wave argue these bills radically undermine the First Amendment.

We need to see this attack on the First Amendment as part of a larger GOP assault on free speech rights.

Take last year’s Supreme Court ruling in the Janus case.

In her dissent to the Janus decision, which declared that public sector unions’ right to collect fair share dues from non-union members violated those workers’ First Amendment rights, Justice Elena Kagan lambasted the ruling for “turning the First Amendment into a sword.” She criticized it for exploiting the First Amendment to curtail rather than foster freedom and democracy, asserting that the First Amendment “was meant not to undermine but to protect democratic governance—including over the role of public-sector unions.”

Justice Samuel Alito’s majority opinion confirms the ruling turns the First Amendment on its head, restricting rather than enabling employees’ collective speech in the workplace. Arguing in the name of First Amendment rights, Alito prepares the grounds for annihilating free speech, especially workers’ voice in the workplace.

Let’s start with one of Alito’s most obnoxious rhetorical moves. Alito characterizes as “most surprising” what he calls the Union respondent’s “originalist defense” of Abood, the case that set the precedent for allowing public sector unions to collect agency fees. The union, Alito summarizes, argued that “Abood was correctly decided because the First Amendment was not originally understood to provide any protection for the free speech rights of public employees.” Alito then distorts the union’s position with wry and condescending arrogance, writing that “we doubt that the Union—or its members—actually want us to hold that that public employees have ‘no [free speech] rights.’” Of course, unions aren’t arguing to deprive workers of free speech; rather they are pointing out the reality that workers do have only very restricted free speech rights in the workplace as individuals, which makes the role of unions—and their financial ability to fulfill that role—in providing a collective voice for workers and creating some degree of workplace democracy all the more crucial. Alito’s argument, in elevating individual free speech rights over that of the collective, ignoring the reality of unequal workplace power dynamics, actually undermines both the speech rights of the individual and the collective.

Throughout the opinion, he premises his argument on the assumption that employees already have free speech rights in the workplace, arguing it is the Union’s position that overturns precedent, not the Janus decision. He writes, “Taking away free speech protection for public employees would mean overturning decades of landmark precedent.”

As I have elaborated   elsewhere , employees don’t have workplace free speech rights.

The Union to which Alito refers isn’t arguing that workers shouldn’t have free speech, but that as individual workers they don’t. This reality needs to be recognized to understand the important role unions fulfill in giving workers a voice.

From all these instances, we need urgently to see is that the First Amendment and democracy itself are under assault.


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The Magic Eight Ball
1  The Magic Eight Ball    last year

teachers can protest after work like everyone else.

their 1st amendment is not being taken from them, only their ability to disrupt society while doing it.

the right to free speech does not include the right to disrupt everyone's day.

why does the left think free speech means they can shut down a highway without getting run over?

shutting down schools is no different 

why has the left not been screaming about air traffic controllers since the feds did the same thing to them?

Greg Jones
1.1  Greg Jones  replied to  The Magic Eight Ball @1    last year

If public workers go on strike, maybe it shows that their jobs are neither important nor essential.

Teachers going on strike just goes they don't give a damn about their students.

In the case of the air traffic controllers, they learned the hard way that calling an illegal strike is not a winning proposition.

2  devangelical    last year

koch-suckers, birthers, and xtian cultists that remain willfully ignorant of the employee rights/benefits they receive, due to others union activities in the past, should be the first to surrender those rights and benefits or STFU.

Release The Kraken
2.1  Release The Kraken  replied to  devangelical @2    last year

The Kochs are open borders advocates, the donated millions in 2018 to Democrats.

2.1.1  devangelical  replied to  Release The Kraken @2.1    last year

Koch bet hedging. trump is bad for their businesses and the businesses of other big GOP donors. who did you think was going to be doing all the labor on the infrastructure projects? who owns the companies getting those contracts? where will the even lower paid service industry employees come from? who owns those businesses? "suckers" refers to the john birch society and tea party (jbs lite) factions of the far right of center coalition. trump's mouth is writing checks the GOP's wealthy benefactors don't want to cash.

Release The Kraken
2.1.2  Release The Kraken  replied to  devangelical @2.1.1    last year

The Koch pacs are now the largest DNC donor.

I'd probably amend my Koch-sucker comments from now on. They are busy blowing Nancy.

2.1.3  devangelical  replied to  Release The Kraken @2.1.2    last year

I'm not buying that leaked memo fairy tale. those yarns only fool the same types of morons I mentioned before.

The Magic Eight Ball
2.1.4  The Magic Eight Ball  replied to  Release The Kraken @2.1.2    last year
The Koch pacs are now the largest DNC donor.

they have always been "globalists"

trump is messing with their game... LOL 

of course they support the still globalist demoncrats.

globalism has no party lines - whoever gets the job done gets the cash.

3  Ed-NavDoc    last year

So in your perfect little hate filled anti conservative world view, as long as one is a progressive leftist liberal, they can say and do whatever they want with zero consequences. So sorry, but I'll stick to being a right leaning conservative Independent with the freedom to choose for myself what to do thank you very much. Lots of luck with the above...jrSmiley_10_smiley_image.gif

4  bugsy    last year

GOP Seeks to Destroy First Amendment

A couple of things here...

1. ANTIFA is not the GOP.

2. ANTIFA (Anti First Amendment) is a far left wing militant arm of the liberal sector of the Democratic party, who makes it their mission to shut down, by intimidation and violence, the First Amendment rights of those that refuse to think like them. In other words, fascist.

Don Overton
4.1  seeder  Don Overton  replied to  bugsy @4    last year

Your comments are so ignorant. You have no idea what you are talking about .  [deleted]

4.1.1  Ed-NavDoc  replied to  Don Overton @4.1    last year

His comments make a lot more sense than most of the hate filled mutterings you come up with to people who are not progressive leftist liberals and do not share your particular political views.

4.1.2  bugsy  replied to  Don Overton @4.1    last year

So, Don, enlighten me with your "wisdom" and tell me what part of my comment was ignorant. It looks like you proved my point by showing good little ANTIFA traits by flagging a comment of someone who does not stay lockstep with you.

ANTIFA will be proud of you.

4.2  MrFrost  replied to  bugsy @4    last year
2. ANTIFA (Anti First Amendment)

AntiFa stands for Anti Fascism. But nice effort on trying to spin it to mean something else. 

4.2.1  bugsy  replied to  MrFrost @4.2    last year
AntiFa stands for Anti Fascism. But nice effort on trying to spin it to mean something else. 

That's what THEY want you to believe it stands for. In reality, their whole method is to stifle First Amendment rights of those that do not stay lock step with them, and using threats and violence to get across their point. THAT is anti First Amendment and FASCIST, a strong suite of the left.

5  bbl-1    last year

First Amendment and democracy have already taken 'the hit.'  Supply Side Economics and it's bastard baby Citizens United are anti democratic mechanisms.

6  livefreeordie    last year

I agree with FDR (and I seldom agree with anything he stood for)--- Public Sector Unions should not be allowed.

"The process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into the public service," Roosevelt wrote in 1937 to the National Federation of Federal Employees. Yes, public workers may demand fair treatment, wrote Roosevelt. But, he wrote, "I want to emphasize my conviction that militant tactics have no place" in the public sector. "A strike of public employees manifests nothing less than an intent on their part to prevent or obstruct the operations of Government."

FDR - “All Government employees should realize that the process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into the public service. It has its distinct and insurmountable limitations when applied to public personnel management. The very nature and purposes of Government make it impossible for administrative officials to represent fully or to bind the employer in mutual discussions with Government employee organizations. The employer is the whole people, who speak by means of laws enacted by their representatives in Congress. Accordingly, administrative officials and employees alike are governed and guided, and in many instances restricted, by laws which establish policies, procedures, or rules in personnel matters.”


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