The Boston Globe, Boston Herald, and the Hill all have coverage of negotiations between Senator Scott Brown, Republican of Massachusetts, and Harvard Law Professor Elizabeth Warren, the Democrat who is running against Mr. Brown for Senate, and their staffs on an "enforceable" agreement to ban negative television, radio, and online advertisements by outside groups in the Senate race.
I cheered Scott Brown's victory along with the rest of the Tea Party, but as a believer in the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States and in the principle underlying it that more political speech, and less restriction of it, is healthier for democracy, I find the whole situation utterly dismaying. It's just another example of how sometimes the dividing lines in American politics aren't pro-freedom and anti-freedom, but the politicians from both parties against the freedom of the rest of us. I can understand how the politicians might find it in their self-interest to avoid being attacked by outside groups. But how is it in the interest of the country, or of an informed electorate? If a third-party candidate were to get in this Senate race and run on a platform of defending the Constitution — Harvey Silverglate? — I'd be sorely tempted to run some third-party commercials in Massachusetts attacking both Senator Brown and Professor Warren for misunderstanding, indeed for trampling on, the First Amendment. Let them sue to try to stop such ads, and let the Supreme Court or indeed any federal judge with a basic understanding of the Bill of Rights educate the senator and the Harvard Law Professor about our country's fundamental principles.
Maybe this is some political effort by Mr. Brown to blunt the attacks on him that he knows are on the way. But if it works to get him re-elected at the cost of undermining the principle that Americans have the right to get together and speak critically about politicians, it's not worth it, in my view, even though I'd much prefer him to Professor Warren in the Senate.