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June 11, 1990, page S7693: When we pledge allegiance to the flag, we pledge allegiance to the principles for which it stands. Few, if any, of those are more fundamental to the strength of our democracy than the first amendment`s guarantee of freedom of speech. Let us not start down this disastrous road of restricting the majestic scope of the first amendment by picking the kinds of speech that are to be permitted in our society.
Next year, in 1991, the Nation will celebrate the 200th anniversary of the ratification of the first amendment and the other bedrock provisions of the Bill of Rights. It would be the height of hypocrisy for Congress to celebrate that proud bicentennial by proposing to amend the first amendment for the first time in our American history.
I urge the Senate to reject any such proposal, and I intend to do all I can to see that the first amendment says amended.
June 14, 1990, page S7927: The first amendment protects not only the speech we admire, but also speech we abhor.
No constitutional freedom is more central to our democratic tradition that freedom of speech. The concept of free and open debate is the cornerstone of our democracy. If the government can sensor its critics, then the ideal of free debate becomes an empty promise.
The words of the first amendment are simple and majestic: `Congress shall make no law abridging freedom of speech.` The proposed constitutional amendment would undermine that fundamental liberty. For the first time in our 200-year history, it would create an exception to the freedom of speech our Constitution protects.
A constitutional amendment would also irreparably damage the separation of powers that has protected our constitutional freedoms throughout our history. The brilliance of the Framers is not more evident that in the concept of an independent Federal judiciary, sworn to uphold the Constitution`s bulwarks against the swollen tides of public outrage.
For more than 200 years, we have trusted the courts to determine when expression is protected by the Constitution, because judges insulated from public pressure can best evaluate the claims of unpopular minorities.
October 16, 1989, page S13430: No constitutional freedom is more central to our democratic tradition than freedom of speech. The concept of free and open debate is the cornerstone of our democracy. If the Government can censor its critics, then the ideal of free debate becomes an empty promise.
Enacting that exception would irreparably damage our remaining liberties. Throughout our history, freedom of expression has rested on the idea that the Constitution requires us to tolerate opposing viewpoints - not just those we approve, but those we despise as well. That tolerance is a fundamental part of our American creed. We proudly teach it to our children: it is perhaps the most distinctly American virtue.
Once a constitutional amendment is proposed by the Congress, it is forever out or our hands. Once an amendment is ratified, it becomes part of our national charter for all times. We ought not to place in the Constitution an amendment restricting our fundamental freedoms when no one can say with certainty just what that amendment means.
For two centuries, the Constitution and Bill of Rights have served as the enduring charter of our liberties, a model for freedom-loving peoples throughout the world. And for two centuries, nothing - not a bitterly divisive civil war, not a shattering depression, none of the other dramatic changes that have transformed the Nation from a cluster of quarreling colonies to the world power it is today - has caused American to amend the Bill of Rights.Warren S. Apel