Can Congress make legal something that is inherently wrong, and can Congress take a freedom that is a part of our humanity and make its exercise criminal?
If there were no First Amendment, would we still have the freedom of speech? The answer, like many in the law, depends on what values underlie the legal system. If the government is the source of our rights, then without the First Amendment's guarantees of free speech, any government could legally punish you for saying words and expressing thoughts it hated or feared; and it could even silence you before you spoke.
On the other hand, if our rights come from our humanity and our humanity is a gift from God, then we would still enjoy the freedom of speech, whether it is insulated from government interference by the First Amendment or not. The wording of the First Amendment itself gives us a peek at what its authors thought. They wrote: "Congress shall make no law ... abridging the freedom of speech." It doesn't say that Congress shall grant freedom of speech; rather, it prohibits Congress from interfering with it. And by referring to free speech as the freedom of speech, the drafters recognized that the freedom of speech already existed before the country that they were founding even came to be.
Yet, your representatives in Congress are about to authorize the president to violate your natural rights by enacting legislation that would permit him to use the military to arrest Americans and restrain them without due process. Even King George III, against whose armies the colonists fought for freedom, did not have the power to do that. And, just because Congress votes to make these acts of tyranny legal does not mean they are constitutional. The Constitution is a higher law than anything Congress can write; and all that Congress writes must conform to it...Read More