Democratic Sen. Ben Cardin of Maryland appeared to backtrack Thursday after he claimed that people who “espouse hate” were not protected by the First Amendment.
“If you espouse hate, if you espouse violence, you’re not protected under the First Amendment,” Cardin said in a clip from a hearing he posted on Twitter Wednesday. “So, I think we can be more aggressive in the way that we handle that type of use of the internet.”
“Our first amendment is one of the defining jewels of this country,” Cardin posted with the 14-second video Wednesday. “It is NOT a free pass to spew violent rhetoric.”
Cardin appeared to clarify the remarks by posting a longer version of the video Thursday after backlash from multiple Twitter users.
“For those interested, here is a longer version of the video referencing hate speech from our recent hearing,” Cardin tweeted with a longer version of the hearing clip, which was one minute, 32 seconds. “Hate speech is protected under the #FirstAmendment, unless it incites violence. #context”
In Europe, the Digital Services Act passed in 2022 creates a new regulatory structure and allows the EU to fine a company up to 6% of its global revenue for non-compliance, NPR reported.
The Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE) called out Cardin Wednesday evening on Twitter.
“There is no ‘hate speech’ exception to the First Amendment,” the free-speech organization tweeted.
“The government may only punish expression that fits into the narrow exceptions to the First Amendment. It is a common misconception that hate speech does not enjoy the First Amendment’s protection, but the Supreme Court has repeatedly held that there is no hate speech exception to the First Amendment,” Joe Cohn, Legislative and Public Policy Director for FIRE, told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “FIRE is pleased to see that Senator Cardin clarified that most hateful speech is indeed protected under the First Amendment.”
A libertarian legal scholar also criticized Cardin’s initial post.
“The Supreme Court has made it clear that there is no hate speech exception to the First Amendment,” Walter Olson of the CATO Institute posted. “That Maryland’s senior senator would not understand this is shocking.”
Cardin was also mocked by the BadLegalTakes Twitter account.
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