Prominent Republicans Call Florida's 1st Amendment Attacks "Insane"

Toni Koraza

Bloggers in Florida who write about elected officials might soon need to register and file periodic reports with the state once this proposal is signed into law.

But this proposal prompted First Amendment concerns and raged GOP firebrand Newt Gingrich, who said it was "insane."

"The idea that bloggers criticizing a politician should register with the government is insane," Gingrich said. "It is an embarrassment that it is a Republican state legislator in Florida who introduced a bill to that effect. He should withdraw it immediately."

Sen. Jason Brodeur of Lake Mary submitted a bill requiring bloggers who accept compensation for articles about the state's governor, lieutenant governor, members of the cabinet, or legislative leaders to do monthly reports with the state.

Bloggers would have to reveal who paid them, how much they received, and other details like the URL of the post. They would be fined $25 each day the report was complied late, with a cap of $2,500 per report. The content on a newspaper's website or other similar publications would be exempt from the law.

What about the First Amendment?

First Amendment groups claim the proposal violates press freedoms.

According to Bobby Block, executive director of the First Amendment Foundation, the bill is "an attempt to limit and control free speech."

"It's an attempt to bring critics to heel, and it's an attempt to make sure that people who want to talk about you think real hard before they do so," said Block.

So far, it is still uncertain how far the bill can go in the GOP-controlled statehouse during the next legislative session. However, it would not surprise anyone if the bill passes. Florida has been on a good streak of limiting and attacking everyone who publicly disagrees with the government.

What do you think about the First Amendment rights in Florida?

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