GOODBYE 1st Amendment, GOP Proposes Punishment For Live-Streaming, Photographing From House Floor

GOODBYE 1st Amendment, GOP Proposes Punishment For Live-Streaming, Photographing From House Floor

House Republicans, led by Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.), apparently weren’t happy when Democratic lawmakers staged a 25-hour sit-in last June, in response to the deadly shootings that killed 50 people in an Orlando, Florida nightclub. The protest was an attempt to spur Republicans into voting on gun control legislation.

Will the first amendment withstand this assault by house republicans?

On Monday, however, House GOP leadership introduced a rule that would punish representatives who take photos, record, broadcast, or film anything from the House floor, The Huffington Post reports, citing Bloomberg. First-time offenders would face a $500 fine, while repeat offenders would face $2500 docked from their paychecks.

But frankly, this is an attack on the First Amendment, which calls for Freedom of the Press and the right to assemble peacefully, as this Reverb Press article by Red Stewart clearly notes.

When Democrats staged the sit-in, Republicans responded by sending the House to recess, which cut off C-SPAN cameras that were broadcasting the protest. So, Democrats responded by tweeting photos and live-streaming the event on their phones.

Such as this tweet by Rep. Katherine Clark (D-MA.)

The rules also reveal which conduct is considered disorderly or disruptive during floor proceedings. Things like other members’ access to microphones, or to “the well”—the front of the chamber would likely fall into the disorderly category.

The conduct could also lead to potential referral to the Committee on Ethics and sanctions against members, Bloomberg reports.

“These changes will help ensure that order and decorum are preserved in the House of Representatives so lawmakers can do the people’s work,” said AshLee Strong, a spokeswoman for House Speaker Paul Ryan, in an emailed statement.

And a few Republicans were upset that Ryan and others didn’t punish Democrats such as civil rights leader Rep. John Lewis (D-GA.) and Rep. John Larson of Connecticut, who were major players in the June sit-in.

Democrats hoped to vote on a “no-fly, no buy” bill and legislation to expand background checks and were understandably furious that the Republicans, who hold the House majority, hadn’t introduced a gun-control bill to the floor in the aftermath of the mass shooting at the nightclub, considered the deadliest in U.S. history.

And some, like Rep. Eric Swalwell, (D-Calif.), remained defiant:

Although taking photos or video from the floor was already prohibited, members were rarely cited for the offense, U.S. News and World Report notes. During the sit-in, dozens of members occupied the front of the House chamber and almost 170 out of 188 members of the Democratic caucus spoke over a span of 25 hours.

If the new rules package is passed, it won’t be retroactive. House Democrats are infuriated about the new rules and say that Republicans are merely following the bidding of the National Rifle Association.

“House Republicans continue to act as the handmaidens of the gun lobby refusing to pass sensible, bipartisan legislation to expand background checks and keep guns out of the hands of terrorists,” a spokesman for Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said in a statement on Tuesday. “Speaker Ryan can continue to shamefully ignore the calls for action from the American people but House Democrats will never stop speaking out against the daily tragedy of gun violence in this country.”

Legislators will convene on Jan.3, when Congress returns and new members are sworn in on Jan.3, the start of the 115th Congress. They will be able to make amendments to the rules package at that time. Then it will be clear whether more of our First Amendment rights have been taken away.

Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

raptorella37@gmail.com'

Megan was born and raised in Ventura, California. She has since lived in the San Francisco Bay Area, the Pacific Northwest, Arizona, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Florida, Mexico, and Costa Rica. While she has always been a liberal, her travels have informed her politics. She has worked for more than 25 years as a professional journalist writing about crime, the police, local politics, feature stories, environmental issues and a variety of other topics. She now writes for Reverb Press.

Megan supports Black Lives Matter and fights against racism, sexism, the corporatocracy, climate change deniers and others who continue to destroy the planet.

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raptorella37@gmail.com'

Megan was born and raised in Ventura, California. She has since lived in the San Francisco Bay Area, the Pacific Northwest, Arizona, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Florida, Mexico, and Costa Rica. While she has always been a liberal, her travels have informed her politics. She has worked for more than 25 years as a professional journalist writing about crime, the police, local politics, feature stories, environmental issues and a variety of other topics. She now writes for Reverb Press.

Megan supports Black Lives Matter and fights against racism, sexism, the corporatocracy, climate change deniers and others who continue to destroy the planet.

ReverbPress Mobile Apps ReverbPress iOS App ReverbPress Android App ReverbPress App