Monday, September 10, 2012

Democrats Vs. The First Amendment

Democratic politicians may disagree on the desirability of gay marriage, but they are evidently united in opposition to the First Amendment.

From the wise and beautiful Amy Alkon comes this report from Overlawyered that Maryland State Delegate Emmett Burns wrote a letter to the owner of the Baltimore Ravens on official stationery stating that:

"I find it inconceivable that one of your players, Mr. Brendon Ayanbedejo, would publicly endorse same-sex marriage"

Amazingly, Burns' shock that a football player would avail himself of his First Amendment rights is not the worst part of the letter. The worst part is this:

"I am requesting that you take the necessary action, as a national Football Franchise Owner, to inhibit such expressions from your employee and that he be ordered to cease and desist such injurious actions."

Delegate Burns is a minister by training, which likely explains why the text of the letter suggests an attempt to sound lawyerly by someone relying on a thesaurus and having once watched a few episodes of Matlock.

It strikes me as wildly inappropriate for a public official to seek to prevent a private citizen from exercising his right to free speech. Using official stationery to do so compounds the offense by implying the use or potential use of government power to discourage the exercise of free speech.

In my view, anyone who would do such a thing is simply unfit to hold public office in the United States.

That goes for office holders who favor gay marriage as well.

Both Overlawyered and the Advice Goddess note the parallel with Boston Mayor Tom Menino, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel, and Chicago Alderman Joe Moreno who conspicously suggested that Chick Fil-A is unwelcome in their cities because of the owners' views on gay marriage.

But they miss the much stronger parallel with New York City Council Speaker - and prospective successor to Mayor Michael Bloomberg - Christine Quinn. Like Burns, Quinn was not content to merely grandstand in the media, and also used her official stationery for a letter to John Sexton (the President of New York University, on whose property resides New York's only Chick Fil-A franchise), seeking the eviction of the restaurant.

For some reason Quinn's reaction seems to have flown under the radar outside New York, even though it arguably represented a more formal and concrete threat by a government official of, in this case, the landlord of a private citizen exercising his First Amendment rights. And New York University has much more reason to care about what Christine Quinn thinks than the Baltimore Ravens do about what Emmett Burns thinks.

Burns and Quinn may differ in their views of gay marriage, but they stand united as Democrats who care more about silencing opposing viewpoints than about defending the First Amendment rights of private citizens.

Both have brought discredit to themselves, the Democratic Party, and the causes they support.

And both are equally unfit to hold public office.


  1. Amazingly, Burns' shock that a football player would avail himself of his First Amendment rights is not the worst part of the letter. The worst part is this:

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