Dem Rep. Hank Johnson: Amend Constitution to Restrict Freedom of Speech

Eric Scheiner, CNS News, November 29, 2012

Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) says, “corporations control the patterns of thinking” in the United States and that the Bill of Rights to the Constitution should be amended so that the government is given the power to restrict freedom of speech.


“These corporations, along with the people they support, other millionaires who they’re putting into office, are stealing your government. They’re stealing the government and the U.S. Supreme Court was a big enabler with the Citizens United case,” Johnson said at the Annesbrooks HOA candidate Forum in Georgia in October.

“They control the patterns of thinking,” said Johnson. “They control the media. They control the messages that you get. So, you are being taught to hate your government—don’t want government, but keep your hands off of my Medicare by the way. I mean, we are all confused people and we’re poking fingers at each other saying, well you’re black, you’re Hispanic, immigration, homosexuals. You know, we’re lost on the social issues, abortion, contraception.

“And these folks,” Johnson said, “are setting up a scenario where they’re privatizing every aspect of our lives as we know it. So, wake up! Wake up! Let’s look at what’s happening. We need a constitutional amendment to allow the legislature to control the so-called free speech rights of corporations.”

The U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United vs. Federal Elections Commission is that corporations have a right to freedom of speech, including the right to speak about politicians and federal officeholders during an election year.

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  • Keep Honkin I’m Reloading

    Cocaine… it’s a hell of a drug.

    • Michael Alan Prock

      Money is a hell of a drug too.
      Nearly 60 percent of the money spent by lobbyists to promote
      “immigration reform” has come from corporate interests, not
      activists or “left-wing loons.” [source
      Thus, he actually has a point. The Supreme Court ruling he mentions here is what allows this, and corporate America is also doing as much to promote diversity through workplace practices as the universities.

      The religion of profit uber alles is not our friend.

  • Francis Galton

    So… he’s no longer worried about Guam tipping over and “capsizing” due to sudden increases in its population?

  • JackKrak

    Most black Dems come from districts where they can send each of their constituents a box of dog sh*t in the mail & still get reelected with 90%+ of the vote. Jesse Jackson Jr., John Conyers, Maxine Waters, etc.

  • GB101

    OK. Hank is a dope. We know that. I know him personally. I can vouch for the fact. But this headline is misleading. He says we need a Constitutional amended to end the so call freedom of speech by corporations. Although I disagree with him, and I believe the Citizens United case was correct, and believe further that corporations ought to have the same freedom of speech that individuals have (they are organizations of individuals, after all), his position is not an outlandish one. Lots of people disagree with me, and think that corporations should not have these rights. And it is not just the Hank Johnsons of the world.

    The headline is not truthful. It leads one to believe that Hank wants to curtail rights of all individuals, not corporations.

    • At law, a corporation is an artificial person. I think there is some legal latitude to somewhat restricting the free speech rights of artificial persons, artificial because they have some sort of government charter. Most bigger corporations in America exist in a file cabinet inside the office of Joseph R. Biden III, Attorney General, Dover, Delaware.

      But there is only so far you can take the restrictions.

      I fail to see why the left wing is still obsessed with CU anymore, because all the Super PAC and 527 money didn’t wind up changing anything. We came into November 6 with Obama, Harry Reid and John Boehner, and we came out of it with Obama, Harry Reid and John Boehner. They might as well not have ever worried.

      • GB101

        I agree with you completely and disagree with Hank Johnson.

      • Dr. X

        Corporations, although they are “artificial persons,” are comprised of real flesh-and-blood persons who exercise their First Amendment right to freely associate, and should not be denied their First Amendment rights to speak and print. The liberal morons who are against Citizens United are the ones making the artificial distinction. It’s like saying that the Kiwanis Club should be denied free speech — who is the Kiwanis Club comprised of??? Real, actual people with real, actual constitutional rights..

      • QD, you are NOT far off. San Francisco and Wilmington DE passed laws that said public housing tenants could NOT own handguns while they lived in public housing – an infringement of their Secind Amendment rights. Those statutes were struck down after SCOTUS’ ruling in McDonald v. Chicago (2010).

    • Eventually, a law like that will be used to stifle individual free speech. Once The Bama has stacked the Supreme Court, that kind of law will be deemed constitutional if challenged. It’s people like Hank that are the reason I will never vote for a black Democrat.

      • John Bonham

        Black democrat ?? How about never voting for a democrat period ?

  • This isn’t about borking the First Amendment totally (yet), this is the left wing hobby horse obsession over Citizens United.

    CU was the right legal decision but bad policy. I can affirm, as someone who was on the staff of a campaign victimized by the barnacle industry that was empowered and perpetuated by the CU decision. Fortunately, there’s a way to solve the bad policy without undoing the CU decision. Since the big money pit of major political campaigns is television, the FCC should use the same power it uses to prohibit cigarette advertising to prohibit direct TV buys from candidates themselves or third party buys that mention candidates by name or use their pictures, images or visages. Politicians can cut video buys and battle it out on YouTube, if they want. Radio buys can still be permitted b/c they’re much cheaper. Third party ads on TV must be issues only.

    With the biggest money pit of campaigns factored out, there can be serious and strictly enforced public financing more taxpayer affordable than proposed schemes would be now.

    You would need to do a few other things first, such as some form of Fairness Doctrine to combat left wing media bias of broadcast media. And the Feds would have to incorporate the First Amendment onto Google, if YouTube is going to be the battlefield of campaign videos.

    • GB101

      the FCC should use the same power it uses to prohibit cigarette advertising to prohibit direct TV buys from candidates themselves or third party buys that mention candidates by name or use their pictures, images or visages.

      I doubt the FCC has the power to do this. Hardly an expert but I doubt it. However, I agree that the abolition of TV ads would be a huge step in raising the level of political discourse. Another step would be to limit the length of campaigns.

      Neither is going to happen in the foreseeable future. The process we have now is constant campaigning, constant fundraising, and interminable TV ads that are dishonest, superficial, and insulting to the memory of our founders. But it looks like we are stuck with it.

      • Democrats and Republicans who are said to be 2016 contenders are already starting to make trips to Iowa.

        My hypothetical public financing scheme in lieu of media buys could have legal start times to the Presidential campaign season. I propose no declarations before October 1 of the year before the election, no debates before November 1 of the same year, and no actual delegate-apportioning primaries or caucuses before February 1 of the year of the election. I’d entertain shortening even that.

        One flaw in my plan is that the FCC power to prohibit hard liquor advertising has already been bonkered by the Federal courts, and the only reason you don’t see Jim Beam spots on prime time is that the media and the hard liquor industry have colluded to self-restrict those ads to very late night, and getting a Sherman Anti-Trust exemption to do so. Therefore, the cig ad ban might very well be skating on thin ice.

  • gemjunior

    He thinks that it’s corporations are the ones that ‘control patterns of thinking, control the media, control the messages we get.’ What a stoop. He can’t see that it’s his own leftist radical socialist Frankfurt-inspired bums who lust for control is bottomless – political correctness gone totally insane. They insist on turning the world upside down and use the media, patterns of thinking, and messages both overt and subliminal. The very OPPOSITE of what he said, being stupid. With his IQ likely in the 70s – 80s, he can only see what’s in front of him. Conservatives bad, racist, tea partiers who want to abolish the sloth class. Liberals good, negro sympathizers, generous with everyone’s money. We are not giving up our freedom of speech. Even the stupidest Americans of all stripes understand what that will mean.

  • MekongDelta69

    Why was I not surprised before I clicked on the story that this guy would be black?

  • i am

    Reminds me of Ozwald Bates

  • aj

    Eh well he is a dunce but I agree with him 100 percent (except for the looming danger of Guam sinking). Corporations should not have any right to free speech including the right to “donate” (bribe) politicians. This notion that corporations have the rights of individuals is a ludicrous fiction devised by out of control activist judges. How the definition of “people” got expanded to include business entities is beyond me and I am an attorney/political science major!

    • Stentorian_Commentator

      Push on a corporation, and you eventually end up with individuals, either directors, officers, shareholders (ultimately the beneficial owners of all nominal shareholders are individuals), or employees. A corporation is a group of people acting in concert, just like the NAACP and the AJC. It’s considered a person as a legal shorthand. If you limit the rights of people just because they are acting in concert, then you are limiting the rights of individuals.

    • Gunrunner1

      Cool So we can restrict, RainbowPush, OpenSociety and all those other 501c Corps.

  • Another consideration:

    Amending the Constitution takes 67 Senators, 290 Congress/wo/men and 38 state legislatures approving. You’re not going to get these overwhelming margins for limiting the First Amendment to corporations unless it also applies to unions and the corporate faux mainstream media.

    There can be a Constitutional Convention, but those are always risky, and nobody’s going to call a ConCon over a left wing hobby horse.

    All this obsession over Citizens United is a left wing fund raising tactic.

    • MikeofAges

      No, you’re not going to get it, period, no matter who it applies to. Fortunately.

  • Stentorian_Commentator

    Can we still have our rights if we act through a limited liability company or business trust rather than a corporation?

  • MikeofAges

    2/3 of each house. 38 states. Sometimes gridlock can be you salvation.

  • Gunrunner1

    Notice the message is aimed at Whitey.

  • IstvanIN

    The problem is that once you start limiting free speech to corporations, then it moves on to organizations and then individuals.

    • ageofknowledge

      Don’t confuse him with facts. He’s not interested.

  • Stupid negro is all that can be said.

  • JohnEngelman

    Corporations are not people. Restricting their ability to finance the propagation of points of view congenial to their economic interests is not a violation of the First Amendment. Money is not speech. It is property.

    Democracy requires the free exchange of ideas. The American people need to be exposed to more opinions. They do not need more exposure to the opinion that the rich should have more money and power.

    • IstvanIN

      Money is not property, it is a medium of exchange and a very imprecise measure of wealth.

    • FourFooted_Messiah

      They do not need more exposure to the opinion that the rich should have more money and power.

      They have (or should have) the same right to speak as those who oppose such money and power.

      Believe me, I’m no fan of bankers, big business, or the big money system, and have seen how a mixed economy can be abused by those who want to include people who have nothing to do with you, your country, or its economy (except to stagnate/destroy it), and understands how Communism, even when boiled down to “From each according to ability; to each according to need” can be easily twisted and corrputed into a nightmare where no matter what you do you can’t get ahead (but that can happen in our case, too)* but I’m short on ideas that anyone would consider. I’d be open to hear about your ideas of a more effective, humane system that doesn’t let people fall through the cracks, but doesn’t take away appropriate rewards for effort/talent/dedication/drive, either, and one that restricts immigration and encourages or discourages births/birth control depending on the needs of society and the economy. Mixed capitalism is the least of a million evils (and even the US has had it for several decades, probably longer than even Canada, famous for it, has really had it.)

      *I think the problem with real world communism (as an economic system; I consider the totalitariasm a separate issue, that can occur in ANY kind of economy or society, look at modern Western PC) is that it was still dependent on “money” – something that isn’t really real, or at least hasn’t been since it was tied to the percieved value of something real (gold or silver). If Communism is to work, it has to be practiced in a barter economy, one in which common language, and at least basic common beliefs (always honour a promise, etc) and cultural stories are shared. The fictional economy of the fictional planet Pern is a good example, I think, of how such a society would work (though their culture is by no means Utopic; people tend to be free vis a vis their expected duties – but punishments can be harsh, even fatal, for not living up to societal expectations. But this can only work where, as I mentioned, the culture and history is shared, which means it would be confined to a relatively small population.

    • StillModerated

      Wrong, John. A corporation is legally defined as an artificial person. At least it was back in 1983 when I attended business law classes.

      • JohnEngelman

        The New York Times is one of the most prestigious newspapers in the English language.

        • Reb Biker

          You forgot to put a smiley face behind your comment, because you’re joking, right?

          • JohnEngelman

            The Pulitzer Prizes, which are awarded each year by Columbia University, are universally regarded as the most prestigious in American journalism. The New York Times Company has been awarded 136 Pulitzer Prizes and citations–more than any other news organization. The New York Times has won 108; the Boston Globe has won 22 and papers in the regional newspaper group have won six.

            The New York Times is number three in circulation in the United States, behind The Wall Street Journal and USA Today. The Washington Post is number five.


          • Reb Biker

            Wow. Libs giving each other awards. I guess you think President Obama’s receiving the Nobel Peace Prize was a big deal too, huh?

          • JohnEngelman

            The Pulitzer Prize is the ultimate in journalism. The Nobel Prize is the ultimate prize, period.

            No, excuse me. Being elected and reelected President of the United States is the ultimate prize.

            BTW, conservatives like George Will have also won Pulitzers so you cannot say that the prizes are given for ideological reasons.

        • Frank

          The NYT is nothing more than a talking piece for the Democrats. Therefore, it cannot be prestigious.

  • George

    I hope he is on Guam when it tips over.

  • Reb Biker
  • Michael_C_Scott

    This imbecile is incoherent.

    • StillModerated

      That’s why he should be kept in office. I marvel at the Georgian’s monkeyshines! Maybe he can also tap dance an Irish jig for our further amusement.

  • David Ashton

    A master of eloquence, nome sane, man?

  • Angry White Woman

    Any idiot thinks that an island will “tip over” is an ignorant loony-toon, and I havn’t seen anything from him since to change my mind–he’s still an ignorant loony-toon.

  • That man is living proof of HBD.

  • “We can contend with the evil that men do in the name of evil; but heaven protect us from what they do in the name of good.”

    – Richard Boone, as “Paladin” from the “Have Gun, Will Travel” episode, ” The Posse”. He was quoting from Erodius’ Second Essay.

    Bantus have NEVER had the respect for the First Amendment, that whites have had. Take the issue of separation of church and state: Bantus let politicians speak in their churches, especially if they’re running for political office. White churches, almost never. Bantus have no problem calling Washington, Jackson and other presidents “racist mothef****rs, but if a white criticizes M.L. King or Muhammad Ali or Coleman Young, then they’ll chimp out and foam at the mouth, and accuse the white of “racism”.

    For a better understanding of what the Citizen’s United SCOTUS decision was about, you might want to read Dave Kopel’s excellent article, “Speech Freed”, in the America’s First Freedom magazine (April 2010), put out by NRA. SCOTUS essentially gutted the McCain-Feingold Act which criminalized certian political speech before a primary or general election. McCain-Feingold EXEMPTED Old Media, like television and newspapers from these provisions – which SCOTUS struck down in a 5-4 vote. It did NOT ease the ban on direct corporate campaign contributions (since 1907 under the Tillman Act) or labor union direct contributions (under Taft-Hartley). Let me put it another way:

    Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) is rabidly anti-gun. If NRA ran ads in opposition, saying something like, “Chuck Schumer – he’s bad for your guns and bad for the Second Amendment’- while Schumer ran for re-election; then McCain-Feingold would have criminalized such an ad, 60 days before a primary or 90 days before a general election.

    Indeed, many of those who promulgated McCain-Feingold, openly said their intent was to muzzle the NRA, especially in the aftermath of Al Gore’s loss in 2000, which many blamed (or credited NRA) on. SCOTUS ruled it was wrong for Congress to place such limits on speech in Citizens United.

    This Bantu Johnson is full of mugabedung, claiming that corporations are controlling the messages people get. Heck, it’s Obama’s regime that’s trying to control the Internet. It’s Obama’s regime, pushing for gun control.

  • Oh, he’s BLACK. That exlplains it all…..

  • Frank

    Isn’t it interesting that the left never mentions that unions have the same right as corporations under this decision?

  • Howard W. Campbell

    Can we keep Hank Johnson from talking about Geography and tectonic shifts?

  • joepatriot1973

    Perpetual life corporations were not allowed to exist in America until the 1880s. The founding fathers were well aware of the real danger to freedom and liberty that corporations posed.

    The colonialists had a lot of experience with the Hudson Bay Company, and the Massachusetts Bay Company.

  • shmo123

    Huh? The man needs to make a trip to Oz and see if the wizard can give him a brain.