McConnell: WH poses ‘grave and growing threat to the First Amendment’

He would have made the Founders proud.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell delivered a blistering speech to the American Enterprise Institute on Friday, accusing the Obama administration and its supporters in Congress of engaging in a sustained, deliberate assault on the free speech that makes up the essence of democracy.

“Last June, I stood here and warned of a grave and growing threat to the First Amendment. That threat has not let up,” said McConnell, R-Ky.

mitchmcconnell“Our ability to freely engage in civic life and to organize in defense of our beliefs is still under coordinated assault from groups on the Left that don’t like the idea of anyone criticizing their aims, and from a White House that appears determined to shut up anybody who challenges it.”

All arms of the administrative branch are accomplices, McConnell said, from the FCC – which wants to make Obama critics vulnerable to harassment by forcing the disclosure of the names of those paying for political advertisements – to the IRS and its stonewalling of conservative groups trying to participate in the electoral process.

The IRS’s actions have gotten plenty of attention lately, but McConnell said they are only a symptom of the real problem.

“Because as serious as the IRS scandal is, what we’re dealing with here is larger than the actions of one agency or any group of employees,” he said. “This administration has institutionalized the practice of pitting bureaucrats against the very people they’re supposed to be serving, and it needs to stop.”

McConnell weaved the IRS scandal into a broader picture, beginning with the president’s shameful finger-wagging rebuke of the Supreme Court for its decision in the Citizens United case in his State of the Union address in 2010.

“Well, I assure you this little piece of presidential theater wasn’t done for the ratings,” he said.

The reason the president and the Left were outraged, he said, was because Citizens United opened the door to conservatives funding the same kind of political organizations that the Left has been doing for years with groups like Planned Parenthood.

That kind of activity, by Americans with every right to hold views that differed from the administration’s, had to be stopped, McConnell said. And the most visible steps to stopping it came from the IRS.

“What matters here was the atmosphere; what matters is the culture of intimidation this president and his allies created around any person or group that spoke up for conservatism or against the direction the president and his administration wanted to take us,” McConnell said.

“There are a lot of important questions that remain to be answered about the IRS scandal. But let’s not lose sight of the larger scandal that’s been right in front of us for five years: a sitting president who simply refuses to accept the fact that the public isn’t going to applaud everything he does.”

But he urged conservatives not to give it up.

“The only way to beat a bully is to fight back,” McConnell concluded. “So be wise to the ways of the Left, and never give an inch when it comes to free speech.”

The whole speech is worth watching here.


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