Brandeis to Barton: Stop Being a Coward

Since David Barton probably won’t take correction from TFN’s press release, perhaps he’ll listen to celebrated Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis. In his oft-cited concurrence in the Whitney v. California  decision, Brandeis points out what the Founding Fathers — whom Barton loves so much — thought about trying to “enforce silence” on speech you don’t like:

Those who won our independence by revolution were not cowards. They did not fear political change. They did not exalt order at the cost of liberty. To courageous, selfreliant men, with confidence in the power of free and fearless reasoning applied through the processes of popular government, no danger flowing from speech can be deemed clear and present, unless the incidence of the evil apprehended is so imminent that it may befall before there is opportunity for full discussion. If there be time to expose through discussion the falsehood and fallacies, to avert the evil by the processes of education, the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence. (Emphasis added)

— Brandeis concurrence in Whitney v. California, 47 S. Ct. 641, 648-49 (1927)

4 thoughts on “Brandeis to Barton: Stop Being a Coward

  1. Wait a minute. I am trying to analyze what you said. How can he be both full of himself and full of baloney. Two different kinds of matter cannot fully occupy the same space. So, are you saying that he is baloney? Help me out here?

    I think the law suit will be unsuccessful because the ad in question was part of a political campaign, and David Barton is a well known national political figure. This will be like Boehner suing Pelosi, and the judge will laugh them right out of court. Clearly, the defendants were trying to educate local Texas voters about the politicians in question, including Barton. Barton can say, “This was not just politics because they were intentionally trying to damage and malign my reputation and personal integrity.” However, that is precisely what all politicians do to each other in political campaigns—and it is both normal and expected. They try to make people look bad and damage just about everything about them so no one will vote for the opponent. Heck folks. Barton’s friend Karl Rove practically invented this political methodology. Now he wants to sue someone for using a play straight out of the home team’s playbook?

    My prediction:

  2. Is there a way to contribute lawyer time and/or money to the defense in this case? If so please advise us. This litigation seems to me to be a priceless opportunity to expose Barton, a la the Scopes trial & the idiotic Oprah beef-libel case. And the best of it is that, as in those two examples, the villains themselves instigated the legal proceedings.

  3. Barton’s version of history is very selective.

    For example he’s conveniently never made mention of the Connecticut ratification convention that took place in January of 1788. One of the anit-federalists there was William Williams. He voiced opposition to the clause in Article VI, which precludes religious tests for prospective office holders. He said the Constitution must be amended to include a belief in God in the preamble. The Williams argument didn’t go over well; the majority of the delegates basically told him to sit down and shut up. On the 9th of January the Connecticut delegates voted for the new Constitution, as is, by a margin of 128 to 40.

    And of couse during the Convention itself one morning, following a particularly contentious session, Ben Franklin famously introduced a motion to open future sessions with a prayer. After being seconded by Roger Sherman the motion was met with a flurry of objections. The issue was then dropped, never to come up again.