At the same time, the ACLU has another concern — that in the midst of an emotional response to this horrific event, Congress, reasonably concerned about the heated and sometimes violent rhetoric in recent politics, might instinctively react by seeking to enact legislation, as some have proposed, that chips away at our fundamental speech rights. Doing so would only compound the tragedy already besetting the nation.
Unfortunately, some of the legislation reportedly being considered for introduction seeks to criminalize types of expression that are protected by the First Amendment. While these efforts are likely well-intentioned, they could in fact be unconstitutional and have the effect of chilling lawful political speech that is so critical to our free society. Congress should not take that path. Our government already has more than enough authority to investigate and prosecute threats of violence or incitements to criminal behavior.