Washington, DC - In a surprising example of election year bipartisanship, Republicans and Democrats put aside their differences to unanimously pass the "Ann Coulter Amendment." Named for conservative pundit Anne Coulter, the proposed Amendment would suspend Ms. Coulter's First Amendment right to free speech.
"To be honest," said a staffer for a prominent Senate Republican who asked not to be named in order to preserve her professional relationships, "this idea was floated back in October after she spoke down in Florida. One day Senator [Chuck] Hagel (R-Nebraska) and Senator [Charles] Schumer (D-New York) were at lunch and the conversation turned to her speech. Both men agreed that it was a problem and began to discuss a potential Amendment to the Constitution."
During the speech, which Coulter delivered at the third annual Ronald Reagan Black Tie and Blue Jeans BBQ at the University of Florida on October 20, 2005, she said: "Frankly, I'm not a fan of the First Amendment".
The First Amendment to the Constitution, which was enacted to preserve the freedom of religion and expression of all Americans reads: "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."
Upon hearing that the Senate had passed the proposed Amendment and was preparing to send it to the States, Llenda Jackson-Leslie, director of legislative communications for the American Civil Liberties Union, was quick to respond. "We rarely find ourselves in agreement with Ms. Coulter," said Ms. Jackson-Leslie, "but this is as egregious an example of the trampling of an individual's rights as I have ever heard. We as an organization would be remiss if we did not stand together with Ms. Coulter in opposition to the terrible injustice."
The Amendment, or rather the Amendment to an Amendment as it happens, would simply add "except in the case of Ann Coulter" to the existing language of the First Amendment. Senator Schumer described this as a simple way to accomplish a "pressing national need", a sentiment shared with many members of Congress.
Constitutional experts point out that this will be the first time when a specific individual is named in the Constitution, let alone be singled out for the suspension of their rights. Bontis LeMay, a professor of constitutional law and Seton Hall University in New Jersey had this to say: "It sets a very dangerous precedent for the Constitution to be used as a tool against an individual citizen - regardless of that person's feeling toward the document. One hopes that the state legislatures will act as a check on this amendment."
Early indications, however, point to an overwhelmingly positive response at the state level. Coulter herself seemed shocked by the development and was, for perhaps the first time, at a loss for words.