A victory for free speech and a defeat for Bobby Jindal in his administration’s attempt to force MoveOn.org to remove their truth-telling billboard in Louisiana. As MoveOn reported yesterday,
Judge Shelly D. Dick of the United States District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana issued a ruling in Dardenne v MoveOn rejecting the state of Louisiana’s attempt to force MoveOn.org to take down a billboard criticizing Gov. Bobby Jindal for denying health care to 242,000 Louisianians.
Judge Dick thought it was pretty obvious that the MoveOn billboard was not an official state billboard, saying in her ruling that, “the Lieutenant Governor [Lt. Gov. Dardenne] underestimates the intelligence and reasonableness of people viewing the billboard.”
Well, that is the modus operandi of the GOP, to dumb things down, including, if they get their way with education policy, people.
Judge Dick shot down Jindal’s corrupt regime lock, stock, and barrel:
The State has not demonstrated a substantial likelihood of prevailing on its burden of proving confusion by viewers of the billboard. Furthermore, the State has failed to demonstrate a compelling reason to curtail MoveOn.org.’s political speech in favor of protecting of the State’s service mark. Finally, the State failed to demonstrate that injunctive relief is required to ameliorate irreparable injury. There has been no showing of irreparable injury to the State.
This is a huge victory for freedom of speech. It turns out you can tell truth to power in Louisiana and survive the experience.
MoveOn.org Civic Action executive director, Anna Galland, celebrated the victory but pointed to the foolishness and waste of the entire episode:
This decision is a victory for common sense, freedom of speech, and the 242,000 Louisianians being denied health care because of Governor Jindal and Louisiana Republicans’ outrageous refusal to let them access Medicaid. What it means is, our billboard is staying up.
While we are pleased with today’s outcome, it’s a shame that the state filed this baseless lawsuit in the first place — which nearly every lawyer with basic knowledge of the First Amendment said they’d lose. Lt. Gov. Dardenne should apologize to the taxpayers for this waste of time and money — time and money that could have been better spent finding ways to get Louisianians access to health care.
But the Republicans, while declining food and medicine and housing to the needy, and education to our children, don’t mind throwing money away on their pet causes, like wasteful investigations of “scandals” they themselves have invented out of whole cloth, or repeated votes to repeal Obamacare, or frivolous lawsuits like this one. There is always money enough for them to play their political games, and they never apologize for spending it even while complaining the coffers are empty.
They certainly won’t apologize for attacking the First Amendment. They have been attacking it in state after state and they are not going to say “We’re sorry” now.
And it isn’t just money wasted on frivolous lawsuits. As Galland pointed out in her response,
Medicaid expansion would be fully funded by the federal government for three years, and then at least 90 percent of the funding would be guaranteed to come from the federal government forever. By saying no to this money, what Governor Jindal is doing is essentially taxing the people of Louisiana to pay for Medicaid for people in other states, but refusing to allow Louisianians to reap the benefits.
The Republican Party has shown itself to be the poster child for a reinvestment in education in this country. You have to believe that if more people could do their sums, that elephant would be begging on a street corner somewhere rather than ruining lives.
The Times-Picayune reports that Lt. Gov. Dardenne has not decided whether to “move ahead with the legal challenge.” Dardenne, significantly, is a candidate for governor in 2015 and can make the billboard a cause célèbre for his campaign. Not coincidentally, Bobby Jindal sees himself as a candidate for president in 2016, and he, like his lieutenant governor, stands to gain or lose Tea Party cred by what he decides to do now. As reported by The Washington Post on April 2, Jindal has already, “announced a plan Wednesday to repeal and replace President Obama’s health-care law, an effort by the Republican to insert himself into the increasingly competitive early maneuvering for his party’s presidential nomination.”
The real tragedy is that people who vote Republican bring this on themselves, but so many people find themselves victims of the vote, victims of vast sums spent by unscrupulous plutocrats, or victims of voter suppression, suffering from a terminal case of legislation without representation, the very thing that brought the colonists to war against the British government.
Yet in a perverse reversal, the GOP, playing the part of King George III and Parliament, pretend to be the patriots in this story rather than the oppressors. The facts show the opposite to be true, and put Republican administrations like that of Bobby Jindal squarely where they belong, publicly humiliated on the stocks in the village square. All we lack is the tar and feathers, but we can apply that during the midterms and again in 2016, and ensure that for once and for all, the basic essentials of a free society are not denied even the poorest American.
Hrafnkell Haraldsson, a social liberal with leanings toward centrist politics has degrees in history and philosophy. His interests include, besides history and philosophy, human rights issues, freedom of choice, religion, and the precarious dichotomy of freedom of speech and intolerance. He brings a slightly different perspective to his writing, being that he is neither a follower of an Abrahamic faith nor an atheist but a polytheist, a modern-day Heathen who follows the customs and traditions of his Norse ancestors. He maintains his own blog, A Heathen’s Day, which deals with Heathen and Pagan matters, and Mos Maiorum Foundation www.mosmaiorum.org, dedicated to ethnic religion. He has also contributed to NewsJunkiePost, GodsOwnParty and Pagan+Politics.