Free speech is a fundamental right enshrined in the First Amendment of the US Constitution.
On June 13th during a debate of House Bill 5711on the floor of the Michigan House, Representatives Lisa Brown and Barbara Byrum used the words vagina and vasectomy in their eloquent and courageous speeches. Apparently, these medically-correct terms are shocking to the Republicans who control all three branches of the Michigan government.
As a result, Speaker of the House Jase Bolger along with Majority Floor Leader Jim Stamas have stripped these eminent legislators of their first amendment rights to free speech. They not only censured these legislators, but they silenced the voices of all those whom Representatives Byrum and Brown represent. Speaker Bolger and Floor Leader Stamas violated the basic principle upon which the American Revolutionary War was fought - No taxation without representation.
No reason for their censure was given other than decorum must be maintained. No length of time for this punishment was provided.
The decision by the Republican House leadership to discipline the two female legislators constitutes misconduct in office and abuse of power. It is Republican leadership who should be disciplined, not Reps. Brown and Byrum.
Michigan NOW calls for the discipline of the Republican leadership and a lifting of the censorship of Representatives Lisa Brown and Barbara Byrum. We also call for the Speaker of the House Jase Bolger and Majority Floor Leader Jim Stamas to issue a public apology to these outstanding and courageous women.
I am writing to you to demand that you issue a formal and public apology to these courageous women legislators. While their speeches were impassioned, they did not in any way "disrupt the decorum of the House," as alleged by Ari Adler, spokesperson for House Majority Leader Jase Bolger. To allege that the women "had a temper tantrum on the House floor" is disrespectful, condescending, and patronizing. They should not have been censured and the Republican leadership should be reprimanded for doing so as this act of censure stripped their constituency of their right to representation.
Free speech is a fundamental right enshrined in the First Amendment of the US Constitution. I am deeply disappointed that these fine women would be censored for what they said on the House Floor during Wednesday's debates.