Opinion

BACKER: Three Ways The Biden Administration Will Attack Free Speech

(Photo by ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images)

Dan Backer Attorney
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An assault on free speech is coming. In the wake of the Capitol riots, Americans have already seen it play out on social media, with the conservative social media app Parler being shut down and blacklisted.

The “woke” activists in Silicon Valley are not acting alone. They are being enabled and emboldened by anti-speech Democrats, who see any semblance of conservatism as a threat to their slanted, socialist worldview. With the Biden administration in power, Democrats are poised to attack the First Amendment with renewed fervor, shutting down the discourse they just so happen to oppose.

When any form of free speech is threatened, all Americans are under attack. We need to brace for worse to come:

Campaign finance “reform”

Earlier this month, House Democrats reintroduced the disingenuously named “For the People Act,” which would only undermine the people’s right to engage in the political process. H.R. 1 would essentially serve as a ban on certain forms of political speech (read: conservative speech) by undoing the Citizens United decision.

Under the bill’s provisions, nonprofit organizations that make campaign-related disbursements of $10,000 or more in a given election cycle would be required to disclose their donors. How do you expect the Left to treat those donors, if they’re conservative? With kid gloves?

To the contrary, nonprofit donors would suddenly be vulnerable to harassment and retribution, which has already become standard practice for campaign finance “reformers.” Any and all right-leaning donors would be fair game, disincentivizing those U.S. citizens from exercising their rights to free speech and free association.

Campus censorship

Nowhere is the First Amendment at greater risk than on the college campus. For years now, the Left has shut down conservative speakers and promulgated a radical social agenda. When most professors lean left (and many in hostile fashion), colleges and universities only become indoctrination camps that serve no other purpose but to brainwash students.

Whereas President Trump took concrete steps to defend free speech on college campus, President Biden is expected to reverse his decisions and turn a blind eye to the Left’s brainwashing. For example, the Trump administration’s Education Department created a new email hotline for college students and staffers to report violations of free expression. The Biden administration is expected to shut down that hotline, fanning the flames of further anti-speech activism.

Whereas President Trump recognized the threats to free speech on campus, President Biden remains silent. Wary of criticizing his base, its most radical elements are allowed to run amok.

Criminal language?

However, such radicalism extends far beyond the college campus. Richard Stengel, one of the Biden transition team’s leaders, has argued that free speech “diminishes tolerance” and “enables discrimination.”

In his words: “All speech is not equal. And where truth cannot drive out lies, we must add new guardrails.”

Then there’s President Biden himself, who has urged social media companies to reject certain political advertisements, specifically pro-Trump content. According to the new president, Silicon Valley needs to “be more socially conscious.” That is certainly no defense of conservative speech. In fact, Americans are far likelier to see the denunciation of certain ideas that are deemed “offensive” by the Left—from traditional values to contrarian viewpoints on the COVID-19 pandemic.

Based on the leftward lurch of today’s Democratic Party, the criminalization of words is not far off. Even the Merriam-Webster Dictionary is joining the Left’s ranks, changing the definition of “racism” to support the Black Lives Matter movement.

One thing is clear: No one is safe from the anti-speech Left. Conservatives must brace for the assault on free expression and fight back — not only for conservative ideas, but for the universality of the First Amendment.

This should not be a partisan fight. All Americans — Democrat and Republican — deserve to have a voice in our democracy, free from government coercion. Unfortunately, that voice is becoming less and less guaranteed as time goes on. The worst is yet to come.

Dan Backer is a veteran campaign counsel, having served more than 100 candidates, PACs, and political organizations. He is a founding attorney of political.law PPLC, a campaign finance and political law firm in Alexandria, Virginia.