First Amendment to the Constitution
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
When Congress or the Senate condemns a specific person or group for political speech – especially speech that attacks public officials – this is not exactly in direct defiance of the first amendment (no law has been made) but it could have a chilling effect.
“Better not say anything bad about a government official or you too could be condemned by the government.” That’s the message it sends.
Some people might wear such a condemnation as a badge of honor. But others would be cowed into silence.
I am disturbed that 72 members of the Senate thought an attempt to chill political speech was a good idea.
As Phil Ochs sang back in 1963:
Oh, it must have been another country —
Yes, it must have been another land.
That couldn’t happen in the U.S.A.
We’d never treat a man that way.