by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
The fight over Brett Kavanaugh’s U.S. Supreme Court nomination has ended, but Jay Cost of National Review Online assesses potential long-term damage.
The right to assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances is a cornerstone of the Anglo-American political tradition. It was enumerated in the English Bill of Rights after the Glorious Revolution, and during the period between the French and Indian War and the American Revolution, the colonists themselves made frequent use of it, writing letters to George III to protect their rights. When James Madison acquiesced to a bill of rights (for he was initially opposed to one), he made sure assembly and petition were included.
Put simply, the right to petition is the right to ask your government for things without fear that it will punish you merely for asking. …
… But the First Amendment does not grant carte blanche to assemble and petition. In fact it is the only pair of rights listed therein that contains a limitation. We have to assemble and petition peaceably. We the people have a right to come together to voice our complaints to our elected officials, but we do not have the right to behave like a mob.
And a mob was what we saw in Congress over the last ten days. Demonstrators were rude, crude, and abusive. They got in the faces of members of Congress and disrupted the business of the national assembly. Thank goodness there was no violence. Were it not for the superlative work of the Capitol Police, there probably would have been.
This is not republican government in action. In fact, it is the just the opposite.