Last week, Senator Dick Durbin sent letters to corporate and nonprofit supporters of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), asking them to disclose their positions on “stand-your-ground” legislation which ALEC supported in 2005.
Senator Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) fired off a statement in which he called the move “inappropriate government intrusion” and said it raised “concerns about retaliation against those who may disagree with the Chairman and the Obama Administration.”
Trent England, the Executive Vice President of the Freedom Foundation, one of the groups Durbin contacted, responded in a scathing letter to the Senator and a post at the group’s website: No One Will Make Us Renounce Freedom:
U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin is a statist and a bully. The Senator, known for comparing U.S. soldiers to Nazis, recently used his senatorial letterhead to demand answers from us here at the Freedom Foundation. Sen. Durbin wants to know whether the Freedom Foundation is, or ever has been, a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).What is this nefarious group? It’s hardly a secret since it has both a website and a blog. They even tweet. In fact, a cursory internet search would show that Bob Williams, the Freedom Foundation’s Founder and Senior Fellow, is on ALEC’s board of scholars.ALEC is an organization made up of legislators, other organizations, and businesses that believe in fiscal conservatism, free markets, and constitutional federalism. Its meetings are about brainstorming and debating policy ideas, sharing information, and sometimes developing “model legislation” that legislators might choose to introduce in their own states. In short, ALEC allows people to talk about ideas … mostly conservative people, that is, and mostly conservative ideas.
Sen. Durbin stresses in his letter that he “acknowledges” the right to participate in politics. Yet this is rather troubling, for if he is not against political action generally, then his anti-ALEC position must relate instead to ALEC’s point of view. When it comes to First Amendment freedom of speech, the absolute worst, most unlawful kind of speech restrictions are those based on “viewpoint discrimination.” (Then again, Sen. Durbin is not a big fan of the First Amendment, except when it protects his right to spend time with avowed Communists.)
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