Free Markets, Free People

1st Amendment – Void Under Capital Dome?

Apparently lawmakers are now required to submit any language they plan sending out to constituents through the Democrats who sit on the Franking Commission.

It seems the term “government run healthcare” rankles the Dems.

Rep. John Carter (R-Texas), the secretary of the House Republican Conference and a former District Court Judge, is having his messages to constituents censored by Democrats on the Franking Commission. Republicans are no longer allowed to use the words “government run health care” in the communications to their constituents.

Carter received an email from the Franking Commission informing him of the censorship.

“It came to me from the Franking Commission and I have the email from the Franking Commission here if you’d like to see it,” Carter said. “We held a telephone town-hall… When you hold telephone town-halls you have a recorded message that introduces the town-hall and the subject matter you’re going to be talking about. You have to now submit that language to the Franking Commission.

Now wait – “franking” is postage. I.e. each Congressional member is given franking privileges (which essentially means his or her signature is all that’s needed to send mail) and able to send constituent mail without postage (although the USPS does get reimbursed for delivering it). Here’s how it is described in a quick search I did:

A six-member bipartisan Commission on Congressional Mailing Standards, colloquially known as the “Franking Commission,” is responsible for oversight and regulation of the franking privilege in the Congress. Among the Commission’s responsibilities is to establish the “Official Mail Allowance” for each Member based proportionally on the number of constituents they serve.

How that evolved into something which has a say on telephone town-halls is a bit mystifying to me but a good example of the mission creep for which bureaucracies are famous (take heed all of you wanting government run healthcare).  Now I’m not here to defend franking privileges, but unlike John McCain, I am an  ardent supporter of the 1st Amendment.

Continuing with the story, Rep. Carter says:

“What we proposed as language was as follows, ‘House Democrats unveiled a government-run health care plan,’” Carter said. “Our response from Franking was, ‘You cannot use that language. You must use, ‘The House majority unveiled a public option health care plan,’ which is Pelosi-speak or ‘just last week the House majority unveiled a health care plan which I believe will cost taxpayers…’”

“I would submit to you this is a free speech issue, guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States,” Carter said.

Yeah, something about free political speech as I recall.

It is also a great example of why the Constitution doesn’t stand a chance in the face of partisan politics any more.

Let freedom ring!


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12 Responses to 1st Amendment – Void Under Capital Dome?

  • Not to worry. The President of the United States previously taught Constitutional law. He’ll get this thing straightened out, I’m sure. I’ll just hold my breath here until that’s done.

  • See, I told you something like this would happen if Al Franking was elected!

  • If you vote in leftwing thugs who want to take away your guns, spend us into bankruptcy, and impose a Socialist health care system on us, do not in the least surprised when they tell you that something you said is just not allowed in “The Clown’s™ America.”

    Free speech be damned!

    (And they said George W. Bush was killing the Constitution. Under The Clown™, the Constitution is merely a piece of paper which can be adhered to, or can be used as convenient toilet paper.)

  • 😉 yep

  • Do these guys have any intestinal fortitude? Consequences be damned, they should not let some institutional committee interfere with their responsibility to communicate with their employers (ie, their constituents).
    In other words Congressman, I don’t want to hear about how those mean old Democrats are stifling you. I want to know what you are doing to bypass them and fulfill your responsibility!

  • Not sure how this is a free speech infringement.  I assume that these GOP members are free to send the mailer on their own dime if they feel THAT strongly about it.

    This is simply an issue of a committee determining if something meets criteria to get mail costs subsidized. Both parties submitted to this “franking commission”  so what’s the problem exactly?

  • This is simply an issue of a committee determining if something meets criteria to get mail costs subsidized. Both parties submitted to this “franking commission”  so what’s the problem exactly?

    Well I guess it is a matter of what happens now that the shoe is on the other foot.

    The democratic reps used mail to criticize the republicans and their policies.  Now that the democrats have control they don’t like the idea of the government subsidizing criticism of them 🙂

  • There was a minor scandal a few years back about various congressmen abusing the franking privildge so there was some justifiable tightening. I will say that the stuff I get in the mail from my representatives and senators (Democrats all) is pretty worthless.

    That said, this is censorship is not allowable. Their excuse is franked communications must be “true” but that’s is so often in the eye of the beholder, especially with Democrats.

    With broader exposure, this little tiff could be worth more than a free bulk mailing for the Republicans!

  • Let’s get rid of this damn thing altogether. Tax dollars shouldn’t pay for the incumbent’s propaganda spam, regardless of party.

  • IF The People’s Money is being used to spread lies and calumnies, then of course the The People ahve a right to stop it!  C’mon Wingnutz it’s not hard to understand…