AB 2943 and the Cutting Down of the First Amendment

Eric Andersen Eric Andersen 3 Comments

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The painting is of Sir Thomas More’s daughter saying goodbye to her father. More was beheaded by King Henry after refusing to acknowledge the State as Supreme Head of the Church of England and refusing to approve the annulment of his marriage to Catherine of Aragon.

And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned around on you–where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country’s planted thick with laws from coast to coast–man’s laws, not God’s–and if you cut them down…d’you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I’d give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety’s sake!” – Attributed to Sir Thomas More in A Man for All Seasons by Robert Bolt

Last week Republican leaders “cut down” the First Amendment (freedom of association) in an unprincipled attempt to uphold a questionable stance on immigration. Their position being that First Amendment protections allowing individuals to freely associate with immigrants did not need to be upheld.

Then on Thursday, Assembly Republicans reversed course and correctly upheld First Amendment protections (freedom of speech, religion) that their peers had unjustly “cut down” days before.

On Thursday, Assembly Republicans attempted to stand upright in the winds of a Democrat controlled Sacramento legislature intent on denying Californians their inherent right to freedom of speech on things many deem sexually immoral. The Assembly passed AB 2943, by a vote of 50-18, making “sexual orientation change efforts” an “unlawful business practice”.

What is surprising is that one of the 50 “yes” votes came from San Diego Assemblyman Brian Maienschein who stood with the Democrats and opposed his Republican peers.

The bill doesn’t include a religious exemption for churches or non-profits and raises a question. On what ground does a Republican challenge a Democrat for failing to uphold the Second Amendment when Republicans are treating the First Amendment arbitrarily?

When did San Diegans give Assemblyman Maienschein the right to obstruct an individual’s pursuit of happiness? If an individual lacks the authority to stop his neighbor from exercising free speech where does Maienschein, who derives his power from the consent of the governed, derive the power?

Free speech and tolerance are the price we pay to live in a free society. We might say free speech is the oxygen that secures our other freedoms. The First Amendment neither requires nor condones that our speech not offend and the right not to be offended doesn’t exist in any declaration of which I’m aware.

Each time we allow political correctness to triumph over God given rights and common sense we become complicit in undermining the freedoms on which this nation was built. Perhaps the legislature would consider taking the log out of their own eye before pointing to the speck in ours.

If the GOP wishes to regain credibility and play a meaningful role in California’s future I suggest more consistency with the First Amendment. I don’t think Madison intended it be treated as a cafeteria plan. 

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Comments 3

  1. Great points on the inconsistency of Assembly members Eric. It seems to me that our state has grown far too populous to be governed effectively in this way. Time for a structural change to the way business is done, using county nullification and secession. Let’s stop trying to wrest control of Leviathan’s reins to force our neighbor to behave in ways we see fit, and instead live and let live.

    What is the GOP’s position on incorporation (if any)? Is it legitimate to incorporate first amendment protections to the several states via the 14th amendment? Was the 14th amendment legitimately passed in the first place?

  2. Carl DeMaio’s take on this bill was truly humorous. It outlaws any financial incentive to change sexual orientation which, by the letter of this law, outlaws the practice of “Gay4Pay” (paying straight men to perfom in gay porn films).

    When he interviewed one of the bill’s supporters (a representative from an LGBT rights organization), the interviewee said “Oh that’s different”.

    We truly live in interesting times

  3. a very thoughtful defense of the First Amendment. Great quotes, questions, and comments.

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