Growing threats to our First Amendment rights: An address by Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell
About This Event

Post-Event Summary

There is currently an urgent need to defend the right to free speech in America, alleged Sen. Mitch McConnell at an AEI event on Friday. He went on to highlight the current looming threats to the fundamental First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and articulated his belief that there must be a bipartisan consensus concerning the "inviolability" of this amendment. Advocating minimal government oversight with regards to free speech, he cited examples related to alleged corporate contributions in politics, the Disclose Act and instances in which government regulation of speech has moved beyond the Founders' original intent.

Sen. McConnell then argued that the right to free speech does not exist to protect popular beliefs, but conversely serves to protect unpopular beliefs. He furthermore stressed that this election cycle is of particular importance to the integrity of the First Amendment.  Citing what he described as a "battle of ideas," Sen. McConnell warned that if the competition of ideas is stifled and there is not solid protection of the right to free speech, Americans will lose the battle of ideas before it even begins.

He concluded his remarks by urging all Americans to unite in their respect for the First Amendment, particularly in light of the perceived attacks on freedom of speech in recent years. Citing quotes from Oliver Wendell Holmes and previous landmark U.S. Supreme Court cases, Sen. McConnell exhorted Americans to speak up when their rights are threatened and hence return to the founding principles that have ensured America's enduring success.

--John VerWey

Event Description

Online registration is closed.  Walk-ins will be accepted.

No member of Congress has been a stronger defender of the First Amendment than Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell. Citing what he will describe as an urgent threat to political speech in America, Senator McConnell will make the case for a renewed defense of the right to free speech and call on all Americans to unite and remain vigilant in defending the Constitution.

After his talk, he will be available for questions from the audience. Lunch will be served.

If you are unable to attend, we welcome you to watch the event live from this page.


11:15 AM
Registration and Lunch

11:30 AM
Peter J. Wallison, AEI
Mitch McConnell, U.S. Senate (R-Ky.)

Question-and-Answer Session

12:15 PM

Event Contact Information

For more information, please contact John VerWey at [email protected], 202.862.5839.

Media Contact Information

For media inquiries, please contact Véronique Rodman at [email protected], 202.862.4871.

Speaker Biographies

Mitch McConnell is currently serving in his fifth term representing the state of Kentucky in the U.S. Senate. He has served as the Senate Republican leader since 2006 and also holds senior positions on the Appropriations, Agriculture and Rules Committees. Before assuming his current leadership position, Sen. McConnell served as chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee during the 1998 and 2000 election cycles and was the Majority Whip in the 108th and 109th Congresses. After graduating from law school, McConnell worked as chief legislative assistant to Sen. Marlow Cook (R-Ken.) and as deputy assistant attorney general to President Gerald Ford. Before his election to the U.S. Senate in 1984, he served as judge-executive of Jefferson County, Kentucky, from 1978 until commencing his senatorial term on January 3, 1985. 

Peter J. Wallison holds the Arthur F. Burns Chair in Financial Market Studies and is co-director of AEI’s program on financial policy studies. At AEI, Wallison researchers banking, insurance and securities regulation. Prior to joining AEI, he practiced banking, corporate, and financial law at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher in Washington, D.C., and New York. From June 1981 to January 1985, he was general counsel of the U.S. Department of the Treasury, where he had a significant role in the development of the Reagan administration’s proposals for deregulation in the financial services industry. He is a frequent contributor to the op-ed pages of The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the Financial Times, and has written a book on campaign finance reform, entitled “Better Parties, Better Government: A Realistic Program for Campaign Finance Reform.”

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