The US Government Cannot Demand Grant Recipients Preach Their Message

Yesterday the Supreme Court made a decision that allows recipients of US funds to support immorality and even crime, or at least not oppose it. I think the two opposing court justices (Scalia and Thomas) made some good points, but ultimately I think conservatives should take this decision as a recognition of an important principle. It leaves us in a bad situation, but it also clearly spells out our future agenda.

If you think I’m wrong, I’d love to read your counterarguments.

“The justices ruled 6 to 2 that a requirement in a multi-billion-dollar anti-AIDS program that withholds funds from organizations that do not have a policy ‘explicitly opposing prostitution and sex trafficking’ violates an organization’s free-speech rights. ‘This case is not about the government’s ability to enlist the assistance of those with whom it already agrees,’ wrote Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. ‘It is about compelling a grant recipient to adopt a particular belief as a condition of funding.’”

On the one hand, this seems enraging. If the US government is going to give money away, then why shouldn’t they be able to dictate the terms?

They should; except it isn’t really their money. They plunder us and then offer some back with conditions.

Our First Amendment wasn’t crafted in the era of Big Government. There was not only no income tax, but suggesting a Federal Income tax to the generation that gave us the First Amendment would have stopped the ratification of the Constitution from ever happening. (Makes you wish someone could go back and warn them, doesn’t it?) It was before the state started a host of departments to give away money in both foreign and domestic circles to “help” people.

In other words, our government has the power, by taxes and debt, to completely circumvent the First Amendment. They can essentially loot the people, generously give them a pittance to help with the resultant poverty, and then put conditions on the pittance so that they may never speak on their own.

I remember a friend of mine who got a job at a community college who essentially had to sign a “loyalty oath” to the Americans with Disabilities Act in order to get the job. As the public sector swallows the private sector, the government is going to be able to basically control everyone’s speech by withholding funds.

I’m sure this ruling will fit into more than one liberal agenda, but it also fits into a conservative one: stop handing out money (and also, eliminate government debt and reduce taxes). Let billionaires like Bill Gates help with AIDS. If other people want to privately contribute, that is their right. But get the government out of the international health and welfare business.

And let’s remember to hold the government accountable to this standard. If they can’t control free speech against prostitution and even sex trafficking, then they can’t ban recipients of Federal funds from wearing NRA t-shirts or publicly opposing abortion.

I’m not saying I want the government to give money to conservatives. I’m saying I want our Federal masters to lose the incentive to give money away at all.

Federal funding is always an attempt to increase control. By damaging the power to take control in the name of the First Amendment, the Supreme Court decision can help us fight back.