List of Relevant Laws Impacting Free Speech (USA) (2015-2022)
Citizens United – campaign finance issues/political campaign ads
Introduced May 2, 2023.
This measure requires the identification of political campaign ads or images that are created via the use of artificial intelligence.
Companion bill found at S. 1596.
Introduced Feb. 16, 2023
This measure requires those who purchase and publish such ads to disclose information about the advertisements to the public, and for other purposes.
Companion bill found at H.R. 2599.
Introduced February 21, 2023
This measure calls for additional campaign finance restrictions on corporations, Super PACs and other entities.
The companion bill in the Senate is S. 512
Introduced September 12, 2022
This measure calls for additional campaign finance restrictions (disclosure requirements on corporations, Super PACS and other entities).
Introduced March 17, 2021
A provision in this law would prohibit deceptive statements in political campaign statements 60 days before elections.
Introduced June 28, 2018
This measure calls for Congress to enact various legislation on campaign finance reform to produce fairer elections.
Introduced September 27, 2017
This measure would ban contributions and expenditures by foreign nationals to federal campaigns. It also would increase reporting requirements of those receiving donations in campaigns.
The companion bill in the Senate is S. 1880.
Introduced July 11, 2017
In this resolution, the House members assert that money is not speech and that there should be a constitutional amendment overturning the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United.
This measure calls for a constitutional amendment that overturns the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United.
Campus Free Speech
Campus Free Speech Restoration Act
Introduced April 6, 2023
The measure seeks to protect student First Amendment rights on campus by prohibit campus free speech zones and limits speech codes. However, as FIRE writes, the measure could have unintended consequences.
Similar measure in Senate – S. 1511.
Another similar measure in the House – H.R. 3505.
Designation of Groups
- Res. 202
Introduced March 7, 2023
Deeming certain conduct of members of Antifa as domestic terrorism and designating Antifa as a domestic terrorist organization.
Leading Against White Supremacy Act of 2023
H.R. 61 – 118th Congress (2023-24)
Introduced: Jan. 9, 2023
This bill expands federal hate crime offenses to include acts motivated by white supremacy. The bill could be viewed as a threat to freedom of expression, as the measure increases penalties based on the motivations or thoughts of the perpetrators in question.
Leading Against White Supremacy Act of 2022
(same measure as above – introduced a year earlier)
H.R.2635 – The Big-Tech Accountability Act of 2023
Introduced April 17, 2023
This bill would amend Section 230 to limit the immunity of social media providers.
Stop CSAM Act of 2023
Introduced April 19, 2023
The bill expands the federal civil cause of action for victims of child victims to
also permit victims of online child sexual exploitation to bring a civil cause of action against tech
platforms and app stores that promoted or facilitated the exploitation.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation views this is as a significant threat to freedom of expression. https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2023/04/stop-csam-act-would-put-security-and-free-speech-risk
RESTRICT Act of 2023
Introduced March 7, 2023
“This bill requires federal actions to identify and mitigate foreign threats to information and communications technology (ICT) products and services (e.g., social media applications). It also establishes civil and criminal penalties for violations under the bill.”
The Wall Street Journal dubs this the Tik Tok bill. https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-tiktok-bill-is-a-sneak-attack-on-free-speech-resist-privacy-supreme-court-senate-china-surveillance-social-media-2e83af21
Online Privacy Act of 2023
Introduced on April 9, 2023
This bill would “provide for individual rights relating to privacy of personal information, to establish privacy and security requirements for covered entities relating to personal information, and to establish an agency to be known as the Digital Privacy Agency to enforce such rights and requirements, and for other purposes.”
See Something, Say Something Online Act of 2023
Introduced Jan. 9, 2023
This bill would require online service providers to report “suspicious transmissions in order to assist in criminal investigations and counterintelligence activities relating to international terrorism, and for other purposes.”
Nudging Users to Drive Good Experiences on Social Media Act” or the “Social Media NUDGE Act”.
Introduced on Feb. 9, 2022
This bill would require the Federal Trade Commission to “identify content-agnostic platform interventions to reduce the harm of algorithmic amplification and social media addiction on covered platforms, and for other purposes.”
Digital Platform Commission Act of 2022
House version introduced on May 9, 2022
Senate version introduced on May 12, 2022
This bill’s stated purpose is “to establish a new Federal body to provide reasonable oversight and regulation of digital platforms.” It would be called the Federal Digital Platform Commission.
No Social Media Accounts for Terrorists or State Sponsors of Terrorism Act of 2021
Introduced March 3, 2021
To provide authorities to prohibit the provision of services by social media platforms to certain individuals and entities on the Specially Designated Nationals List and senior officials of governments of a state sponsor of terrorism.
Deep Fakes Accountability Act
Introduced April 8, 2021
To combat the spread of disinformation through restrictions on deep-fake video alteration technology.
Health Misinformation Act of 2021
Introduced July 22, 2021
“To amend the Communications Act of 1934 to provide that, under certain circumstances, an interactive computer service provider that allows for the proliferation of health misinformation through that service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of that misinformation, and for other purposes.” (ends Section 230 immunity to ISPs who spread health disinformation)
Empower Parents to Protect Their Kids Act of 2021
Introduced on Oct. 21, 2021
The bill’s stated purpose is “to require elementary schools and secondary schools that receive Federal funds to obtain parental consent before facilitating a child’s gender transition in any form, and for other purposes.” Some of the bill’s measures could be challenged as a form of compelled speech — compelling school officials to inform parents about issues involving children.
Limiting Public Protests
Support Peaceful Protest Act of 2021
Introduced Jan. 13, 2021
This bill would “hold individuals convicted of Federal offenses during the course of protests financially liable for the cost of Federal policing, and for other purposes.”
Support Peaceful Protest Act of 2020
H.R. 8117 (introduced 8/28/2020)
This bill would “hold individuals convicted of Federal offenses during public gatherings resulting in riots financially liable for the cost of Federal policing, and for other purposes.”
Holding Rioters Accountable Act of 2020
Introduced Sept. 17, 2020
This bill’s purpose is “to withhold a percentage of Federal funding from State and local prosecutors who fail to faithfully prosecute crimes related to protests and riots.”
Sex Trafficking (amend Section 230)
Passed into law 4/11/2018
The measure opens ISPs to criminal and civil liability for their users’ online content – amends Section 230.
Commentary from the Electronic Frontier Foundation on how this law threatens freedom of expression: https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2018/03/how-congress-censored-internet
Introduced Aug. 1, 2017
This bill would limit Section 230 immunity for ISPs for content related to sex trafficking.
Commentary from JURIST as to why this bill threatens freedom of expression: https://www.jurist.org/commentary/2017/10/pesavento-baker-safe-harbor/
Targeting Speech of Individual Politicians
- Res. 1164
Condemning Sen. Charles Schumer
Introduced on June 9, 2022
This resolution calls for the condemning of Senator Charles Schumer for his comments about Justices Kavanaugh and Gorsuch following his statement at a public rally, “I want to tell you, Gorsuch. I want to tell you, Kavanaugh. You have released the whirlwind, and you will pay the price. You won’t know what hit you if you go forward with these awful decisions.”
- Res. 327
Expel Maxine Waters
Introduced April 9, 2021
This resolution calls for the expulsion of Rep. Maxine Waters, claiming that on many occasions in her speeches she has incited violence and caused civil unrest with her allegedly incendiary comments.
- Cong. Res. 3
Censure Donald J. Trump
Introduced Jan. 11, 2021
Censuring Donald J. Trump for his comments calling for the overturning of the 2020 election by incitement
- Res. 474
Introduced June 14, 2021
“Condemning and censuring Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Representative Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, Representative Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, and Representative Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts for defending foreign terrorist organizations and inciting anti-Semitic attacks across the United States.”
- Res. 19
Censure Louie Gohmert
Introduced Jan. 5, 2021
Condemning and censuring Congressman Louie Gohmert of Texas for his comments about overturning the 2020 Presidential election.
- Res. 83
Feb. 1, 2021
Condemn and censure Marjorie Taylor Greene
Condemning and censuring Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia for her liking several posts on Facebook “demonstrating her support for the execution of several members of the Democratic Party.”
Critical Race Theory
This bill would prohibit the teaching of critical race theory in the military.
This bill would limit federal funding for the teaching of critical race theory in the Armed Forces or use federal funding to investigate extremism in the Armed Forces or Defense Department.
This bill includes a provision would deny federal funding for schools related to safety if the school teaches critical race theory.
The bill includes the following provision: that it is a corporate norm … to “not use corporate resources to promote socialism, Marxism, critical race theory, or other un-American ideologies among their workforces or customers.”
This bill would deny federal funding for school safety if schools teach critical race theory.
Introduced May 7. 2021
“To prohibit Federal service academies from providing training and education based on critical race theory.”
Introduced June 16, 2021
This bill would prohibit the teaching of critical race theory in D.C. public schools.
Introduced July 28, 2021
“To prohibit the teaching of critical race theory in schools operated by the Department of Defense Education Activity, and for other purposes.”
Introduced Sept. 28, 2021
“To amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to make using critical race theory or critical race pedagogy in any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance a violation of such Act, and for other purposes.”
“This bill conditions receipt of federal education funds on compliance with guidance issued by the Department of Education on (1) banning in public education the teaching of critical race theory and the usage of any teaching methodology or curriculum that promotes or causes a racial divide or lack of equality.”
“This bill prohibits executive agencies from acting in contravention of certain provisions of Executive Order 13950, which prohibits programming that contains certain concepts relating to race and sex. It also prohibits federal agencies and recipients of federal funds from advancing certain ideas, such as that one race is inherently superior or inferior to another race.”
“This bill prohibits the use of FY2021 federal education funding for the priorities noticed in the Department of Education’s proposed rule titled Proposed Priorities-American History and Civics Education, published on April 19, 2021, or for a priority or requirement related to the teaching of critical race theory under a grant, contract, or cooperative agreement.”
“This bill requires the Department of Defense (DOD) to issue guidance prohibiting the use of any education or training methodology within DOD and the Armed Forces that promotes or causes a racial divide or lack of equality.”
“This bill prohibits the federal government from conditioning or incentivizing financial support upon the adoption of specific instructional content, academic standards and assessments, curricula, or programs of instruction related to the priorities in the Department of Education’s proposed rule titled Proposed Priorities-American History and Civics Education, published on April 19, 2021, or related to critical race theory.”
House version – H.R. 3434
“This bill prohibits the Armed Forces and academic institutions of the Department of Defense from promoting specified anti-American and racist theories (e.g., that any race is inherently superior or inferior to any other race).”
“To establish a deficit-neutral reserve fund relating to prohibiting the teaching of critical race theory in prekindergarten programs and elementary and secondary schools.”
“Establishing the Marxist roots of critical race theory and detail the threat this divisive ideology poses to the American republic.”
“Expressing the sense of the Senate that Critical Race Theory serves as a prejudicial ideological tool, rather than an educational tool, and should not be taught in K–12 classrooms as a way to teach students to judge individuals based on sex, race, ethnicity, or national origin.”
“Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that Critical Race Theory serves as a prejudicial ideological tool, rather than an educational tool, and should not be taught in K–12 classrooms as a way to teach students to judge individuals based on sex, race, ethnicity, and national origin.”
This measure prohibits institutions of higher education that authorize Anti-Semitic events on campus from participating in the student loan and grant programs under title IV of such Act.
Introduced December 1, 2016
This measure provides for the consideration of a definition of anti-Semitism for the enforcement of Federal antidiscrimination laws concerning education programs or activities.
Here is an article criticizing this bill as a threat to freedom of speech.
Companion Senate bill – S. 10.
Speech Related to Foreign Nations
Countering Chinese Propaganda Act
Introduced Feb. 23, 2021 (House)
Introduced Feb. 24, 2021 (Senate)
“To impose sanctions with respect to foreign persons that knowingly spread malign disinformation as part of or on behalf of a foreign government or political party for purposes of political warfare and to require a determination regarding the United Front Work Department of the Chinese Communist Party.”
The bill would limit speech supporting an international boycott of Israel.
Commentary on how the bill threatens free speech: https://theintercept.com/2017/07/19/u-s-lawmakers-seek-to-criminally-outlaw-support-for-boycott-campaign-against-israel/
False or Deceptive Advertising/Marketing
Combating Egregious Advertising through Sentencing Enhancement Act” or the “CEASE Act”.
Introduced June 2, 2020
This bill would increase penalties for “egregious false advertising” practices during the Covid-19 pandemic
Opioid Crisis Accountability Act
House version Introduced May 22, 2019
Senate version introduced May 21, 2019
This bill would “hold pharmaceutical companies accountable for dubious marketing and distribution of opioid products and for their role in creating and exacerbating the opioid epidemic in the United States.”
Introduced October 23, 2019
Commentary on how the law threatens freedom of expression: https://thehill.com/blogs/congress-blog/judicial/464728-the-case-acts-flaws-threaten-free-speech-and-congress-must-fix/
Targeting QAnon Theories
Condemning QAnon and rejecting the conspiracy theories it promotes.