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The governor of Illinois, JB Pritzker, seems to be on a mission to “rewrite” the US Constitution – specifically its First Amendment – as well as relevant US Supreme Court rulings.
At the very least, Pritzker, a Democrat, is making an effort to reinterpret some provisions of these fundamental legislative/legal rules, seemingly simply to suit a partisan political narrative.
According to Pritzker, people have the right to free speech – but not to “be deceptive” – and he made it clear that in Illinois, the latter scenario is now criminalized and will be prosecuted as fraud.
“You have a right to free speech, but you don’t have a right to lie,” he said to CNN. “You don’t have a right to use those lies to push people into situations in which they, frankly, are breaking the law or where they are unaware of what their full rights are. So, we need to make sure that people know what their rights are.”
Thus, on two separate occasions recently, Pritzker effectively claimed that free speech, as legislated and protected at the federal level, does not apply to his state, where a new law, Senate Bill 1909, is designed around preventing crisis pregnancy groups from spreading “misinformation” close to hospitals where abortions are performed.
But, as reports note, neither in his statements to CNN nor in a subsequent news conference, Pritzker made no attempt to pretend that his understanding of free speech refers only to this piece of legislation.
And that understanding, observers note, runs contrary to both the First Amendment and some landmark Supreme Court decisions. In the US, lying – unless it’s defamation – simply is legal, and protected as free speech.
Otherwise, there wouldn’t be enough prisons to hold all those whom Pritzker wants to put there by giving a chance to those who feel a statement is a lie to prosecute others – starting with all those who claimed that the 2016, or the 2020 election was rigged, to those who claimed masks do or do not stop Covid – right or wrong.
And while demonstrably ignoring people’s rights by appropriating free speech rules as a state-level issue, the governor was also sure to say that, “we need to make sure people know what their rights are.”
But it’s hard to imagine that Pritzker would actually be happy if such knowledge was universal – at least when it comes to the First Amendment, because that would put serious hurdles in the path of his party’s political endeavors.