Wednesday, September 6, 2017

85 percent of Americans support free speech for all, even the unpopular, 63 percent oppose political violence by Antifa

Source: Americans for Limited Government
Source: Center for Security Policy

Washington, D.C. - September 6, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- A new public opinion survey conducted by McLaughlin and Associates found the vast preponderance of those polled favors the constitutionally guaranteed right to freedom of expression—and rejects the notion that some should be denied that right. This finding confirms that of a recent Rasmussen poll. Together, these distinguished pollsters’ data represent a powerful warning for government officials, lawmakers and activists intent on restricting free speech if, in their view or others, it gives “offense.”

Key results of the McLaughlin survey conducted last week included the following:

  • By a margin of 85 percent to 8 percent, respondents said that, in the aftermath of the riots in Charlottesville, Virginia, last month, “all Americans are entitled to free speech,” not “just some of us.”
  • 84.9 percent of respondents regarded “freedom of speech as a fundamental right.” Only 9.3 percent thought “it should be restricted if it offends some people.”
  • 63 percent opposed the violent leftist group Antifa’s attempts to silence those whose speech it disagrees with, while only 21 percent supported Antifa.
  • A plurality of 42.8 percent opposed the use by internet companies of a list compiled by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) that accuses “many mainstream conservative groups” of engaging in “hate speech.” Only 31.8 percent supported such use.

  • Frank J. Gaffney, the president of one of those conservative groups, the Center for Security Policy, responded to the latest poll by observing:

    “Americans clearly understand the dangers associated with attempts to censor speech and other forms of expression. Today, it might be someone else who is being silenced. Tomorrow, it may well be you. And, to the extent that organizations funded by the likes of radical leftists like George Soros—including the Southern Poverty Law Center and Antifa—are allowed to act as the arbiters of who is allowed to communicate, about what and how, it’s just a matter of time before many millions of us are gagged.

    “The Left and the Islamist allies it enables have clearly crossed a line,” Gaffney continued. “Organizations like the SPLC, the Anti-Defamation League and the Council on American-Islamic Relations are engaged in political warfare pure and simple, aimed at denying their opponents’ free speech rights in academia, in the media, on the internet and in the public square. Politicians—and most especially Republican ones—acquiesce to such anti-constitutional conduct at their own electoral peril.”

    Indeed, the wake-up call to public office-holders offered by the McLaughlin and Rasmussen polls on free speech could hardly be more timely. After all, in April 2017—even before the bloodletting in Charlottesville spawned relentless, bipartisan demands for limiting “offensive” expression—the U.S. Senate unanimously approved S.Res. 118, co-sponsored by Sens. Marco Rubio, Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris. It was described as “a resolution condemning hate crime and any other form of racism, religious or ethnic bias, discrimination, incitement to violence, or animus targeting a minority in the United States.”

    Animus is a sweeping term that can include such highly subjective sentiments as hostility, ill-feeling and strong dislike. The resolution also called for federal investigation of not just hate crimes but “hate incidents” and “hate threats,” both undefined. A counterpart resolution is awaiting action in the House of Representatives, as are actual bills with names like the “NO HATE Act” in both the Senate and the House.

    Speaking of Soros and his ilk, the McLaughlin poll also found that by a nearly two-to-one margin, 48.5 to 26.3, respondents agreed that President Donald Trump should not employ “subordinates who can be shown to be colluding with George Soros, Barack Obama or others associated with them to undermine President Trump’s administration.” Among Trump voters, the spread was even wider, 67.6 percent to 18.4 percent.

    The Center for Security Policy strongly agrees with the prevailing sentiments documented in the McLaughlin and Associates poll. It calls on every American who loves freedom to exercise their First Amendment rights. That should, among other things, entail insisting that their lawmakers uphold freely sworn oaths to “defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic.”

    Americans for Limited Government President Rick Manning today issued the following statement in response to a poll by Center for Security Policy/Eagle Forum/McLaughlin & Associates showing overwhelming support for the First Amendment and free speech rights:

    “At a time when the First Amendment is under unprecedented assault by the institutional left, the American people have proven once again that they are not willing to trade their essential liberty to avoid being potentially offended, with 85 percent unequivocally supporting free speech rights for everyone, including those they disagree with. Particularly telling is the result that nearly two-thirds of Americans are opposed to the radical Antifa movement, which supports and engages in violence against those they disagree with.

    “The fact that the First Amendment maintains broad suppport across America clearly shows that freedom runs through the very DNA of the American people, and those who seek to undermine basic freedoms or provide aid and comfort in that effort, do so at their own political peril.

    “Private companies like Google, Facebook, Twitter and Paypal need to proceed cautiously as they consider becoming arbiters of appropriate speech on the Internet, because if Americans believe that they have relinquished their neutrality, they will lose their dominance to market alternatives.”

    Over Twenty Leading Conservative Organizations Urge Congress to Pass Pro-Growth Tax Reform in Open Letter

    Source: American Action Network

    Washington, D.C. - September 6, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- As Congress returns from August recess, American Action Network’s Middle-Class Growth Initiative (MCGI) is pleased to lead a coalition of over 20 state and national conservative organizations calling on the U.S. House of Representatives to seize the opportunity to deliver transformative tax reform. In an open letter, the MCGI-led coalition highlighted the failures of America’s tax code and urged every member of the U.S. House to make the tax code simpler, fairer, and with lower rates to help revitalize America’s middle class.

    A personalized letter will be hand-delivered to every House member’s office in Washington. The coalition letter marks the first of several open letters released as part of AAN’s ongoing efforts on tax reform.

    “Now that Congress is back, it’s time to get to work and deliver transformational tax reform that will cut taxes on the middle class, raise wages, and allow U.S. job creators to compete,” said AAN Executive Director Corry Bliss. “After seeing years of stagnant wages, jobs lost to places like China, and slow economic growth, American families have had enough of our broken tax code. With this letter, we’re showing members of Congress that conservatives are united and will stand with them as they work to pass meaningful reforms that American job creators and middle-class families need.”

    The full letter, sent to every member of the House of Representatives, can be read here. List of signatories:

    Alabama Policy Institute
    American Action Network
    Americans for Tax Reform
    American Commitment
    Americans for Limited Government
    Beacon Center of Tennessee
    Bluegrass Institute for Public Policy Solutions
    Center for Freedom and Prosperity
    Center for Individual Freedom
    Citizens United
    Council for Citizens Against Government Waste
    FreedomWorks Freedom Foundation of Minnesota
    Georgia Public Policy Foundation
    Hispanic Leadership Fund
    Independence Institute
    Middle-Class Growth Initiative
    National Taxpayers Union
    Rio Grande Foundation
    R Street Institute
    Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council
    Taxpayers Protection Alliance
    Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy
    60 Plus Association

    Colorado designer may appeal ruling that won’t let her challenge law forcing her to promote same-sex weddings

    Source: Alliance Defending Freedom

    Denver, CO - September 6, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- A Colorado graphic designer who specializes in designing and creating custom websites is likely to appeal a federal judge’s ruling issued Friday. The ruling doesn’t allow her to challenge a law that forces her to use her artistic talents to promote same-sex ceremonies if she creates custom websites and graphics celebrating weddings between one man and one woman. Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys represent Lorie Smith and her studio, 303 Creative.

    The judge ruled that Smith and her studio can’t sue to challenge a portion of Colorado’s Anti-Discrimination Act because a request that a couple with the first names “Stewart” and “Mike” sent Smith isn’t sufficient to prove that a same-sex couple has asked her to help them celebrate their wedding. The Colorado Civil Rights Commission has construed the law to force artists like Smith to create objectionable art even though Smith happily serves everyone and decides what art to create based on the art’s message—not her client’s personal characteristics.

    The law also prohibits artists from expressing any religious views about marriage that could indicate someone is “unwelcome, objectionable, unacceptable, or undesirable” because of their sexual orientation. The judge is allowing Smith to sue against that portion of the law but is holding the case until the U.S. Supreme Court rules in another ADF case, Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, involving Colorado cake artist Jack Phillips.

    “Artists shouldn’t be threatened with punishment for deciding, as artists always have, which messages they are going to promote or not promote,” said ADF Senior Counsel Jonathan Scruggs. “Because the court’s ruling allows the state to violate the freedom of artists like Lorie to make these kinds of personal decisions, she is considering appeal.”

    “Every American, including artists, should be free to peacefully live and work according to their faith without fear of unjust punishment by the government,” added ADF Legal Counsel Kate Anderson. “Just because an artist creates expression that communicates one viewpoint doesn’t mean Colorado can require her to express all viewpoints. Lorie should be allowed to proceed with her legal challenge in full because it’s unlawful to force an artist to create art against her will just because the government disagrees with her beliefs.”

    The lawsuit, 303 Creative v. Elenis, which ADF attorneys filed last year in the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado, explains how the state law runs afoul of various provisions of the U.S. Constitution, including the First Amendment’s Free Speech and Free Press clauses. Specifically, the suit challenges Colorado Revised Statute § 24-34-601(2)(a). The law is the same one the commission used against Phillips and Masterpiece Cakeshop.

    MRD Law partner Michael L. Francisco, one of nearly 3,200 attorneys allied with ADF, is serving as local counsel in the case for Smith and 303 Creative.