Conservatives have worked to make the First Amendment a tool to further right-wing agendas, suggests Adam Liptak of The New York Times. An increasingly right-leaning judiciary has long struck down liberal cases concerning freedom of speech more often than conservative ones. Issues over campaign finance reform, LGBT rights, labor unions, the environment and abortion have been dismissed on the grounds that they limited free speech. It has been used to justify discrimination and stop regulations of guns or pharmaceuticals. This strategy risks hurting American democracy and preventing necessary social changes.
The assertion that conservatives have “weaponized the First Amendment” is wrong, believes Jonathan S. Tobin of National Review. The ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) recently decided to stop defending the freedom of speech of voices that it disagrees with. Liberal entities have long campaigned to restrict freedom of speech in terms of religious expression, abortion or labor unions. Today’s conservatives are not using a more aggressive strategy that hasn’t been seen before. Their actions mirror those of liberals in the past. They are rightly ensuring that freedom of speech isn’t eradicated for certain conservative groups.