Democrat Lawmaker Takes Aim At Free Speech

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) has introduced a bill with the aim of severely curtailing free speech with perverse legal language under the guise of fighting “White supremacy.”

Under the bill dubbed “Leading Against White Supremacy Act of 2023,” certain forms of speech will attract criminal punishment.

The bill seeks to “prevent and prosecute white supremacy inspired hate crime and conspiracy to commit white supremacy inspired hate crime.” It will also amend title 18 of the United States Code to define conspiracy to commit a hate crime.

Under the bill, an individual “engages in a white supremacy inspired hate crime when white supremacy ideology has motivated the planning, development, preparation, or perpetration of actions that constituted a crime or were undertaken in furtherance of activity that, if effectuated, would have constituted a crime.”

This makes it a federal crime to make a social media post that promotes views deemed by the government to be “White supremacist” if someone else commits a crime.

Criminal conspiracy statutes under the current law require two or more people to work together to commit a crime. But Lee proposes that it is made a crime even if only one person is actually involved in the crime as long as another person’s “published material advancing white supremacy, white supremacist ideology, antagonism based on “replacement theory,” or hate speech that vilifies or is otherwise directed against any non-White person or group.”

One of the many questions that beg an answer is how the framers of the bill plan to determine whether a crime was inspired by a “white supremacy ideology.”

Critics have derided the bill as another example of the Left’s war on freedom of speech. For George Washington University Law Professor Jonathan Turley, it totally shakes the foundation of the First Amendment.

“It is a criminal hate speech law that would violate core principles of the First Amendment,” he said in a blog post, noting that the bill makes it clear that “the accused does not actually have to support or conspire in a crime.”

Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) also derided the bill in a tweet that reads, “When they’re not bankrupting our country, they’re busy making a mockery of the First Amendment.”

The Leading Against White Supremacy Act of 2023 does not have any co-sponsor yet. It could have managed to garner some success had it been introduced in a Democratic-led House. However, with Republicans in control of the House, its chances of passing the chamber seem slim.