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The Democrats in the Senate have complained that judicial nominee Janice Rogers Brown is outside of the mainstream, an extremist that threatens American personal freedoms. Ted Kennedy charges her with "a deep hostility to civil rights," which Charles Hurt notes in a short article in today's Washington Times. For Ted's idea of how freedom and civil rights should be protected, Hurt notes this passage from Brown's testimony at the Judiciary Committee:
Mr. Kennedy also expressed concern about a case Justice Brown handled involving racial slurs in the workplace and scolded her for not being more concerned about such behavior. Justice Brown wrote that the First Amendment guarantees free speech and prohibits the federal government from ordering a supervisor not to use racial slurs.
"How does that possibly advance the cause of justice and fulfill what we were trying to do to deal with this kind of verbal harassment in the civil rights laws?" Mr. Kennedy asked.
"Well, Senator," Justice Brown replied, "Let me say that I absolutely agree with you that no one should be subjected to this kind of harassment, to verbal slurs. ... All that I was saying in that case is that the damages remedy is a deterrent. I think that damages in this particular case would be totally effective because you're dealing with this corporation that is not going to want to go through this continually."
So Kennedy argues that the federal government should have the ability to impose speech codes in a private-sector workplace, while Brown argued that the corporation should be held responsible for its work environment instead. Which of these stances shows support for the First Amendment and civil rights? Which person in this instance supported the extreme remedy for a civil tort? No peeking at your neighbor's answer, kids ...
In truth, Brown represents the mainstream and supports civil rights far more than do Kennedy, Leahy, and the extremist wing of the Senate Democratic caucus. Those men would impose federal speech codes on the nation, forbidding the utterance of words and ideas they find repulsive -- and while in many instances they may be right in finding them repulsive, in many instances they would simply ban speech that contradicts their political point of view. That's why we have a First Amendment.Sphere It View blog reactions
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