During the confirmation hearings for Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination for the Supreme Court, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) responded to Democrats’ attacks on Barrett’s nomination by discussing the Citizens United v. FEC Supreme Court case, in which the Obama Administration attempted to ban a film that was critical of Hillary Clinton.
The Supreme Court ruled by a narrow 5-4 majority in Citizens United that the federal government could not punish citizens for engaging in political speech, and Cruz pointed out that 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton “explicitly promised every justice she nominated to the court would pledge to overturn Citizens United.”
“What was Citizens United about?” Cruz began. “You know, it’s interesting, most people at home, they’ve heard about Citizens United. They know it makes Democrats very, very upset.”
“Citizens United concerned whether or not it was legal to make a movie criticizing a politician,” Cruz stated. “Specifically, Citizens United is a small non-profit organization based here in D.C. that made a movie that was critical of Hillary Clinton. And the Obama Justice Department took the position that it could fine, it could punish Citizens United for daring to make a movie critical of a politician. The case went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. At the oral argument, there was a moment that was truly chilling: Justice Sam Alito asked the Obama Justice Department, ‘Is it your position under your theory of the case, that the federal government can ban books?’ And the Obama Justice Department responded, yes. Yes, it is our position that if the books criticize a political candidate, a politician, the federal government can ban books.”
“As far as I’m concerned that is a terrifying view of the First Amendment,” Cruz said. “Citizens United was decided five to four. By a narrow five to four majority, the Supreme Court concluded that the First Amendment did not allow the federal government to punish you for making a movie critical of a politician. And likewise, that the federal government couldn’t ban books. Four justices dissented. Four justices were willing to say that the federal government can ban movies and presumably could ban books as well.”
“When Hillary Clinton was running for president she explicitly promised every justice she nominated to the court would pledge to overturn Citizens United.” Cruz said. “By the way, Hillary Clinton said she would demand of her nominees something you have rightly said that this administration has not demanded of you, which is a commitment on any case as to how you will rule. Democrats have shown no compunction in expecting their nominees to make a promise, ‘Here’s how I’m going to vote on a pending case, judicial ethics be damned.’”