Critics remind Cuomo of the First Amendment after he bans sale of Confederate flag & ‘other hate symbols’ on state property
Fresh out of losing a Supreme Court battle over his infringement of religious expression, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is again raising First Amendment alarms by banning the sale of “hate symbols” on state property.
The law bans the sale of Confederate flags, swastikas and other so-called hate symbols – a restriction that would require the government to determine what speech is hateful.
Announcing the bill on Tuesday, the governor argued that the legislation will “safeguard New Yorkers from the fear-instilling effects of these abhorrent symbols” at state fairgrounds and other government properties. However, he added that “certain technical changes” will be needed to avoid infringing free-speech rights.
“This country faces a pervasive, growing attitude of intolerance and hate – what I have referred to in the body politic as an American cancer,” Cuomo said.
Since Cuomo signed the legislation, which went into effect immediately, critics have roasted the governor for “virtue signaling” with a law that conflicts with free-speech rights.
“Most of us find these symbols offensive, but the First Amendment is not designed to protect popular speech,” law professor Jonathan Turley tweeted on Wednesday.
Cuomo just signed a law to ban the sale of the Confederate Flag and other symbols on public lands. The law will face a serious free speech challenge. Most of us find these symbols offensive but the First Amendment is not designed to protect popular speech. https://t.co/cDGC22N3KY— Jonathan Turley (@JonathanTurley) December 16, 2020
Journalist Robby Soave agreed, and pointed out that Cuomo had admitted the bill’s constitutional shortcomings even as he signed it.
This bill obviously violates the First Amendment, which Cuomo admitted even as he signed it. https://t.co/ZqQyOImhAn— Robby Soave (@robbysoave) December 16, 2020
The move comes just weeks after the Supreme Court struck down Cuomo’s Covid-19 capacity limits on houses of worship on November 26, saying the state order violated religious freedoms. “Even in a pandemic, the Constitution cannot be put away and forgotten,” the majority decision said.
Washington Examiner columnist Brad Polumbo argued Cuomo was trampling on the First Amendment with the hate-symbol law. “This is a blatant violation of free speech in the name of woke racial progress,” he wrote.Also on rt.com Michigan inn owners remove Norwegian flag after taking flak from folk mistaking it for Confederacy banner
National Review’s David Harsanyi agreed, saying neither Cuomo nor state lawmakers are allowed to decide what constitutes hate speech, let alone ban it.
With that tendency in mind, Manhattan GOP chairwoman Andrea Catsimatidis said the hate-symbol law would create a dangerous precedent. “I personally would not buy a Confederate flag,” she said. “However, banning such items is a slippery slope. What’s next? Are they going to ban MAGA hats from New York?”
Governor Cuomo just signed a bill banning the sale of Confederate flags in New York. I personally would not buy a Confederate flag, however, banning such items is a slippery slope. What’s next? Are they going to ban MAGA hats from New York?— Andrea Catsimatidis (@AJ_Cats_) December 16, 2020
But other observers argued that outlawing the sale of such symbols on public land isn’t a total ban. One Twitter commenter suggested that the US should follow Germany in banning hateful symbols.
Banning these sales on "public" land makes sense to me. It's not a total ban, unfortunately in my opinion.— D Hoenes (@golferdawn) December 16, 2020
Well...consider that Germany doesn't allow any NAZI parafenalia or promotion......its time for the USA to do the same with slavery and the co federate flag and I am a southerner— leosun4u (@leosun4u) December 16, 2020
The latest Cuomo controversy also comes at a time when he’s reportedly being considered by President-elect Joe Biden as a candidate for attorney general. Some observers said that possibility was made more chilling by the governor’s latest alleged assault on the Constitution.
He has already admitted there's a first amendment issue with the law but he signed it anyway..... and this is the guy socialists want as the AG.— Al Bundy (@KentStFan) December 16, 2020
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