ROOKE: The GOP Passes Un-American Censorship Bill That Puts Constitution Through A Paper Shredder

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Mary Rooke Commentary and Analysis Writer
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The Democratic Party is engaged in civil war over the Israel-Gaza conflict, and Republicans can’t help but take a bullet for their supposed political enemies.

It comes in the form of H.R. 6090, a freshly-passed bill by the U.S. House of Representatives aimed at curbing antisemitism on university campuses. Antisemitism on American soil has indeed grown loudly since the Oct. 7 attack in Israel. However, House Speaker Mike Johnson has been unable to step aside and allow Democrats to expose themselves as radicals on the issue. Instead, he’s held multiple press conferences, including one where he was drowned out by protestors on the Columbia University campus, putting an unnecessary bullseye on the Republican party.

Johnson’s apparent belief that tackling antisemitism is the key to uniting the GOP is doing the exact opposite. Sources in both chambers of Congress told the Daily Caller that members are frustrated with Johnson’s handling of H.R. 6090, known as the Antisemitism Awareness Act, and the target that’s now on their backs.

The dilemma, multiple GOP aides told the Caller: either back down on free speech, or be slandered as an “antisemite.”

“This botched antisemitism resolution is just the cherry on top of the crap sundae Mike Johnson has served Congressional Republicans for six months,” one senior GOP Senate aide told the Caller. “Whether through incompetence or malice, he is a worthy successor to Nancy Pelosi.” (ROOKE: The Boys Will Be Alright, But What About Our Young Women?)

A senior GOP aide in the House confirmed that some in Johnson’s own conference felt the same way, and denounced H.R. 6090 as a “messaging bill.”

“This is a problem when messaging bills are just brought up without adequate consideration and aren’t scrutinized fully. You end up giving Democrats cover on an issue while splitting the Republican conference when you shouldn’t,” the senior House GOP aide said.

While tackling the growing radicalization of U.S. colleges and universities is a noble task, that’s not what H.R. 6090 accomplishes.

H.R. 6090 Rule of Construction:

“In reviewing, investigating, or deciding whether there has been a violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (42 U.S.C. 2000d et seq.) on the basis of race, color, or national origin, based on an individual’s actual or perceived shared Jewish ancestry or Jewish ethnic characteristics, the Department of Education shall take into consideration the definition of antisemitism as part of the Department’s assessment of whether the practice was motivated by antisemitic intent.”

The House is using the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) as the arbiter to define what antisemitism means in America. Critics say the definition given by IHRA is too broad and provides a clear avenue to chill free speech on college campuses, which are designed to host robust discussions on various topics that the First Amendment protects. (ROOKE: Red State Bill Could See Residents Jailed For Online Speech)

“The Antisemitism Awareness Act will require, through the Department of Education, which has enforcement authority, institutions to crack down constitutionally protected speech. The Antisemitism Awareness Act, however well intended to provide institutions with more tools to address antisemitism on campuses, is overbroad and unconstitutional because it polices constitutionally protected speech,” lead counsel of government affairs for the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE), Tyler Coward, told the Daily Caller.

“Higher education already has a lot of tools at their disposal to deal with the disruptive or unlawful activities occurring on their campuses without referencing this overbroad and viewpoint discriminatory definition of antisemitism,” he continued. “This bill does not provide any additional tools for institutions to deal with this ongoing problem and will instead inevitably be used to censor speech on politically important topics in precisely the areas – colleges and universities – where these difficult debates and conversations should be happening.”

Coward said a better use of Congressional power would be to include religion as a protected class under Title VI and to confirm that institutions should be responding to incidents of discriminatory harassment consistent with U.S. Supreme Court case law.

H.R. 6090 includes a Rule of Construction that supposedly protects free speech. However, by having the official meaning of antisemitism defined by the IHRA, Coward says it cancels out any of those protections. (ROOKE: Biden Is Too Spineless To Seize A Golden Opportunity To Unite The Country)

“The plain language of the bill restricts constitutionally protected speech. They can’t have it both ways. They can’t say the Department and, therefore, the institutions that receive federal dollars should be cracking down on this speech, but also, we don’t want them to. It just doesn’t work like that,” he said, adding that “it won’t save the bill from constitutional challenges.”

Several members of the House GOP argued against the bill at the Wednesday night vote. Republican Representatives Thomas Massie, Chip Roy and others voiced concerns that H.R. 6090 made constitutionally protected free speech on college campuses illegal by using an outside organization’s definition of antisemitism and not clearly defining what that means in the bill.

“Criminal behavior is criminal behavior. Violating people’s civil rights is violating people’s civil rights. But when we want to insert the government into what you are thinking and what motivates you, you are empowering that which should never be empowered. The ability of the government to police thought, to police speech, to police your views, not the views that then carry out into actions. The actions are the problem. Police the actions,” Roy said in his speech.

Democratic New York Rep. Jerry Nadler also told members that despite being a self-proclaimed Zionist, he opposed H.R. 6090 because it would curb free speech.

“While there is much in the bill I agree with, its core provision would put a thumb on the scale in favor of one particular definition of antisemitism to the exclusion of all others to be used when the Department of Education assesses claims of antisemitism on campus,” Nadler said. The problem is that these examples may include protected speech in some context, particularly in respect to criticism of the State of Israel.”

Republican Sen. Mike Lee told the Daily Caller that he plans on voting for H.R. 6090 when it reaches the Senate after “significant First Amendment issues” are addressed.

“Anti-semitism is a vile ideology deserving of condemnation. Unfortunately, the resolution before the Senate has significant First Amendment issues, which I am working to fix right now. I look forward to voting for a final text which honors our freedom of speech and religion while supporting our Jewish brothers and sisters,” Lee said.

Republican voters are used to being put dead last on the GOP’s list of concerns; Johnson’s tenure has been nothing but a Godsend to the Democrats. (ROOKE: SCOTUS Has To Protect Kids From Genital Mutilation Because The Rest Of Society Wouldn’t)

Under Johnson’s leadership, the House passed bills that attacked free speech and extended warrantless spying on American citizens, all while funding President Biden’s open border policies and building the FBI a new headquarters. Johnson should look around and see the people championing his speakership.

While elite media are praising him and Biden has promised not to weigh in on the House speaker drama, Republican voters are wondering when he’s actually going to step up and push back against the establishment that is stripping the American dream from their already emaciated hands.

With H.R. 6090, Johnson seems intent on delivering yet another win to the Democrats. He provided them the much-needed cover that, if he had otherwise stayed away, would have exposed the Democrats and given Republicans a fighting chance in November. But if Republican voters have learned nothing else, it’s that when given the chance, the GOP loves to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.