Townhall.com Staff

Senator McConnell delivered a speech at the American Enterprise Institute this afternoon on the need for a renewed defense of free political speech. In his address, the Senate Minority Leader made his case for the need to vigorously defend political speech in the midst of Obama’s radical abuse of the First Amendment. The address focused on the threat to free speech posed by the Obama administration, while encouraging the audience to make the protection of free speech a priority issue during election season.

The Senator began his speech by highlighting his three-decade history of defending the First Amendment. He was opposed to the McCain-Feingold Act from the beginning, and applauds the Citizens United case as a step in the right direction.

The Senator also expressed his opposition to the Disclose Act, saying that it is “nothing less than an effort by the government itself to expose its critics to harassment and intimidation.” The Disclose Act, a response to the Citizens United case, would mandate strict disclosure of all donors to outside spending groups. The bill would open more donors to bullying from the government and be used as a “political weapon.”

The Senator fears that Obama and liked-minded politicians will continue adding individuals to an “enemies list.” McConnell also expressed outrage at another tactic used to suppress political speech, SWATting.

Repeatedly and emphatically, Mitch McConnell stressed the need for government to quit micromanaging political speech. Political free speech is not always convenient. The Senator recalled a time when liberal protestors camped outside of his Kentucky home. However, McConnell said he never once wanted to infringe on the First Amendment rights of the protestors. The Senator pointed out that “if we don’t protect unpopular speech, no speech is safe.”

Throughout his speech, Senator McConnell called for an open political discourse and a simple “battle of ideas” between competing ideologies. Most importantly, he warned about the danger of any politician throwing core constitutional principles out the window for purely political reasons. The Senator wrapped up his speech by encouraging everybody to join him in fighting for free speech.

“We’ve all got to unite against these tactics, wherever we see them. If you see these things, speak up. Call out the offenders. Get ready for the criticism. And fight back.”

Post by Kyle Bonnell, Townhall Editorial Intern