RFK Jr. Critiques the Trump, Biden Rematch

The independent candidate suggests he thinks the election is shaping up as a referendum on which major party candidate is less of a threat to the Constitution.

AP/Eric Risberg
Presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. with his running mate, Nicole Shanahan, on March 26, 2024, at Oakland, California. AP/Eric Risberg

Is the presidential election shaping up as a referendum on which major party candidate is less of a threat to the Constitution? That’s one takeaway from independent candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s claim that, compared to President Trump, “President Biden is the much worse threat to democracy.” That’s quite a contrast with the view from the left and from even some Republicans who say they see Mr. Trump as a menace to America’s democratic norms.

Mr. Kennedy isn’t glossing over Mr. Trump’s actions around January 6, which Mr. Kenndy frames as an attempt to overturn the 2020 vote. “I’m not going to defend President Trump on that, and it was appalling,” he tells CNN, and “trying to overthrow the election clearly is a threat to democracy.” Mr. Biden poses even more danger to the Constitution, though, “because,” Mr. Kennedy avers, “the First Amendment is the most important.”

Mr. Kennedy appears to have some standing on this head, in light of his claims that his speeches and communication with voters were “being censored” as part of Mr. Biden’s efforts to police speech online to curb “misinformation.” A federal judge likened the efforts to the “Ministry of Truth” in Orwell’s “1984.” Justice Samuel Alito contended that, as a result of Mr. Biden’s program, Mr. Kennedy faced “the irreparable loss of his First Amendment rights.”

“Our democratic form of government is undermined,” Justice Alito added, “if Government officials prevent a candidate for high office from communicating with voters.” It is even more “dangerous,” the justice allowed, “when the officials engaging in such conduct are answerable to a rival candidate.” Mr. Kennedy has previously described Mr. Biden’s efforts as “a systematic, clandestine, and highly effective campaign” to undermine the First Amendment.

A federal judge vindicated Mr. Kennedy’s complaint about Mr. Biden’s censorship, though his case is on hold pending the outcome of a related case at the Supreme Court. The Nine, at oral arguments, appeared sympathetic to the Biden Administration’s explanation that its efforts to police online content were in the public interest and not an affront to free speech. A decision in the dispute, though, could wait until the end of the high court’s term.

Regardless of how the court rules, Mr. Biden’s attempt to limit public discussion in today’s equivalent of the public square is troubling. These columns have decried Mr. Biden’s attempt to limit online talk about the pain of, say, inflation. What chutzpah. It’s even worse to stifle a political rival. Mr. Biden is “the first president in history,” Mr. Kennedy says, to have “used the federal agencies to censor political speech, so to censor his opponent.”

When it comes to the Constitution, Mr. Kennedy could also well point to Mr. Biden’s defiance of the high court on his student loan amnesty scheme, not to mention his attempt to undermine the Nine’s legitimacy when it ruled against racial preferences at colleges. Plus also, too, the Biden administration’s prosecutions of Mr. Trump have raised concerns the Justice Department is being used as an extension of the president’s re-election campaign.

“There is no comparison to summoning a mob to the Capitol,” a Democratic official says, with Mr. Kennedy’s gripes about being “barred from pushing conspiracy theories online.” Mr. Trump defends his January 6 actions as free speech — and an effort to ensure that the laws were being faithfully executed, per his duty. Mr. Kennedy’s free speech activism helps explain why he finds Mr. Trump’s behavior less egregious than Mr. Biden’s censorship.

The New York Sun

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