Should Political Speech be Protected by the First Amendment?

Lawmakers are beginning to respond to the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords yesterday in Tucson, Arizona. In a CNN post today, Mark Preston talks about new legislation designed to protect members of congress and federal judges.

Rep. Robert Brady, D-Pennsylvania, said he will introduce legislation making it a federal crime for a person to use language or symbols that could be perceived as threatening or inciting violence against a Member of Congress or federal official.

Brady notes that both parties have used this type of violent rhetoric. What do you think? Is this a real need that will serve to take the necessary precautions against unintentionally inciting violence or is it a violation of free speech? Typically threats have not been protected by the First Amendment. Should “language or symbols that could be perceived as threatening or inciting violence a Member of Congress or a federal judge” also not be protected under the First Amendment (emphasis mine)?

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One thought on “Should Political Speech be Protected by the First Amendment?

  1. I’m not a fan of this idea about legislation against violent rhetoric. I am, however, generally opposed to such rhetoric against politicians and other people. Have you seen Sarah Palin’s statement that the media’s suggestions about the image on her website was a blood libel inciting the same violence they purport to condone? Drama queen, much, Ms. Palin? “Blood libel”? I certainly didn’t read everything out there, but I didn’t come across anyone inciting violence against Sarah Palin. Does she understand the difference between censure and violence? Between reprimand and obviously inappropriate and tacky symbolism?

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