Today, during her Supreme Court nomination hearings, Solicitor General Elena Kagan neglected to offer a robust defense of the First Amendment in response to questions about the arguments she crafted as the government’s defense in Citizens United v. FEC.. Given the current peril posed by the DISCLOSE Act to free speech, Americans deserve to know Kagan’s judicial philosophy with regards to the First Amendment.
In oral arguments for Citizens United, the Deputy Solicitor General argued that under current law, the government believed it had the power to ban any publication that included the functional equivalent of express advocacy. This prohibition, the government stated, extended to pamphlets, movies and even books. In her nomination hearing, Kagan seemed to show no remorse over her role as the arbiter of that opinion – when asked if she believed the government did indeed have that authority, she fluidly dodged the question.
“The critical question here,” Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform said, “Is whether Kagan’s opinions as Solicitor General are ones she actually believes. If this is the case, the millions of Americans who are employed by corporations or are part of grassroots advocacy groups and who will be silenced by the DISCLOSE Act have reason to be fearful. A nominee who believes the government can ban a book simply because it mentions the name of a federal candidate is almost certain to show the same blatant disregard for speech on television, radio or the blogosphere.”