UPDATE: Bishop amendment corrected ‘flaw’ in House anti-censorship bill

March 9, 2023, Fairfax, Va.—Americans for Limited Government President Rick Manning today issued the following statement supporting H.R. 140, the Protecting Speech from Government Interference Act, which includes an amendment by U.S. Rep. Dan Bishop (R-N.C.) that addressed what he called “the flaw in the bill” as it was originally proposed, which in Bishop’s words, “there is never a legitimate law enforcement purpose for Federal agents to take down speech that the First Amendment protects”:

“We are happy to report that an amendment by Representative Dan Bishop to H.R. 140, the ‘Protecting Speech from Government Interference Act’ was passed on March 8, 2023. The Bishop amendment stops federal law enforcement officials from censoring any speech that is lawful, and only allows for ‘unlawful’ speech to be targeted. ‘Unlawful’ in the amended version of the bill is defined as meaning speech that is not protected by the First Amendment.

“Americans for Limited Government supports H.R. 140 in its amended form, and encourages a yay vote.  Rep. Bishop deserves special kudos for identifying one of the problems we pinpointed and adeptly using the normal process to make the bill match the title of the legislation.”


Dan Bishop Amendment to H.R. 140, March 8, 2023 at https://www.congress.gov/congressional-record/volume-169/issue-44/house-section/article/H1180-1 :

“Page 2, beginning on line 25, strike paragraph (1) and

insert the following:

“(1) In general.–Nothing in this section shall be

construed to prohibit an employee from engaging in lawful

actions against unlawful speech within the official authority

of such employee for the purpose of exercising legitimate law

enforcement functions.”.

Page 3, line 15, after “function”, insert “under

paragraph (1)”.

Page 3, line 16, strike “lawful” and insert “unlawful”.

Page 3, line 17, strike “but” and all that follows

through line 24 and insert the following: “and consistent

with subparagraph (D), the head of the agency that employs

the employee shall submit, to the Office of Special Counsel

and the chair and ranking member of the committees of

Congress described under subparagraph (B), a report that


Page 5, after line 19, insert the following:

“(D) Reporting requirements for certain actions.–

“(i) Any censorship action relating to combating child

pornography and exploitation, human trafficking, or the

illegal transporting of or transacting in controlled

substances shall be exempt from the reporting requirement

under this paragraph.

“(ii) With respect to any censorship action related to

safeguarding, or preventing the unlawful dissemination of,

properly classified national security information,

subparagraph (A) shall be applied by substituting `Not later

than 72 hours after’ for `Not later than 72 hours before’.”.

Page 5, line 6, before “and the”, insert “the Permanent

Select Committee on Intelligence,”.

Page 5, line 11, before “and”, insert “Select Committee

on Intelligence,”.

Page 7, line 14, strike “and”.

Page 7, beginning on line 16, strike “Constitution.”.”

and insert “Constitution; and”.

Page 7, after line 17, insert the following:

“(5) the term `unlawful speech’ means speech not protected

by the First Amendment of the Constitution.”.

U.S. Rep. Dan Bishop floor speech in favor of amendment, March 8, 2023 at https://www.congress.gov/congressional-record/volume-169/issue-44/house-section/article/H1180-1:

“Mr. Chair, I am grateful that the

chairman and lead sponsor will, I anticipate, lend his support to this

amendment. It will close a loophole that would defeat the purpose of

the bill. In fact, absent this amendment, the bill would inadvertently

validate the very conduct this bill aims to stop.

Emerging evidence, most notably the Twitter files, depicts what one

expert has termed the largest censorship program in U.S. Government

history. On the pretext of protecting election infrastructure or

enforcing the Foreign Agents Registration Act, personnel of the

Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, CISA; the Department

of Homeland Security, DHS; the FBI, the Office of the Director of

National Intelligence; the CIA; the Global Engagement Center from the

State Department, which most Americans had never heard of; and even the

CDC practically embedded themselves with operators of social media

platforms and corporate media to manage and curate Americans’ public

discourse, to induce Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, et cetera,

to take down lawful and First Amendment protected speech of Americans

time and again and again.

In so doing, these omnipresent Federal agencies established working

relationships with a small cadre of supposed internet research groups,

affiliated in some cases with well-known universities and NGOs, but

loaded with political partisans, who purported to create black-box

analytical efforts to identify social media accounts that amplified

content from Russia.

But these purported experts, like Hamilton 68, didn’t identify

Russian-amplifying bot networks, as they claimed, through some

sophisticated algorithm. They just found a bunch of American Trump

supporter accounts and labeled them that. And for months and months, as

they became a trusted source for media that cited Hamilton 68, Twitter

“trust and safety executives” like Yoel Roth stood quietly by knowing

that Hamilton 68 was a fraud.

Guess what? Follow the money. Part of the working relationship

between the agencies and the research groups was funding that flowed by

the millions in government grants. Each day, it becomes clearer that

between these three pillars–Federal security agencies, media

operators, and internet analysts–a new Washington revolving door has

emerged to facilitate the same people moving between them and profiting

from the scam.

The base text of this bill would allow exactly this process to

continue, but there is never a legitimate law enforcement purpose for

Federal agents to take down speech that the First Amendment protects.

We have now seen agencies of the Federal Government once again

targeting Americans for their political views. In the government’s

attempt to stop Russian misinformation, they have targeted and attacked

Americans for simply voicing opinions that they disfavor. Their actions

violate our First Amendment principles, and Congress must take this

action to stop it.

The amendment will address the flaw in the bill, but it is odd to me

that Democrats who used to so revere the First Amendment are no longer

concerned about it. In Lamont v. Postmaster General in 1965, which

Democrats lauded, the Court held that Americans have a right to receive

communist propaganda from abroad. The Democrats loved it then. Now,

they don’t even want Americans to be able to post their views on social

media. How abhorrent.

We will fix it. This bill will fix it. The amendment will fix the


Mr. Chair, I reserve the balance of my time.”

“House anti-censorship bill is a swing and a miss,” Americans for Limited Government President Rick Manning, March 8, 2023 at https://getliberty.org/2023/03/house-anti-censorship-bill-is-a-swing-and-a-miss/

For media availability contact Americans for Limited Government at media@limitgov.org.