Think Freely Media presents Common Sense with Paul Jacob

Freedom “Weaponized”

free speech, First Amendment, censorship, freedom, liberty, rights, Justice Elena Kagan

Justice Elena Kagan has a way with words. The conservative majority on the court, she said after two recent rulings, is “weaponizing the First Amendment.”

What a phrase! But what does it mean?

“Conservative groups, borrowing and building on arguments developed by liberals,” explains The New York Times, “have used the First Amendment to justify unlimited campaign spending, discrimination against gay couples and attacks on the regulation of tobacco, pharmaceuticals and guns.”

First: if “liberals” now find themselves not supporting the idea of particular freedoms, or freedom in general, are they really “liberal”?

Second: “borrowing arguments” is what we expect to happen. Logic isn’t partisan.

Third: the point of the Bill of Rights is to “weaponize” the defense of freedom.

Remember, it is freedom of speech; freedom of the press; freedom of association; freedom of exercising one’s religion. The First Amendment weaponizes their defense by disallowing Congress from legislating against them.

Now, it has long been a “problem” that these listed freedoms blend together. They all work together or don’t work at all. And each points to freedom more broadly.

Kagan wants to read freedoms narrowly — though liberals historically have, indeed, read them broadly.

She’s objecting to two recent rulings. The first prohibits states from requiring pregnancy centers to talk up abortion options to their clients. An obvious free speech issue. The second prohibits governments from backing unions in their extraction of “agency fees” from non-members. An incontrovertible issue of freedom of association.

Kagan and The New York Times apparently think that “liberalism” means defending some freedoms in some contexts, but denying freedom in others.

This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.



Illustration by Newtown grafitti


By: CS Admin


  1. Everything above is well put, but the political left believes that even logic itself may be disregarded to the extent that it has been weaponized — which is to say to the extent that it has been used fundamentally to undermine the cases for left-wing objectives or for left-wing means of seeking those objectives.

    And, for the left, just as the constitution is not the the set of rules actually expressed in the document named “The Constitution of the United States”, the Bill of Rights is not the principles actually expressed in the first ten Amendments to that document, but is instead a set of five to seven principles, which are evolved from five to seven of those Amendments. (Three of the Amendments are regarded as having become altogether extinct as a result of the evolutionary process.)

  2. Pat says:

    I had to click on the comments section just to read the entire article.    There was so much white space in the e-mail, as if something was being censored.   It turned out that none of the italicized words were printed.

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