Letter: Civics lesson

To the editor:

It’s ironic that a “Celebrate Freedom Week” bill (HB 2280) passed the Kansas House last week. The bill requires, among other things, that public schools offer additional lessons about constitutional rights.  

HB 2280 was sponsored by 30 representatives. Twenty-eight of these legislators also voted in favor of HB 2023, which includes the following language: “It shall be a prohibited practice for a public employee organization to endorse candidates, or spend any of its income … to engage in political activities.”

Rather unimaginatively disguised as “paycheck protection,” HB 2023 simply legislates away a sizable chunk of First Amendment rights for targeted groups of people. If anyone needs a lesson about the Bill of Rights, it is the 68 Republicans in the Kansas House who voted in favor of HB 2023.

I’m a science teacher by trade but I think this civics lesson is simple enough, so here goes. House GOP, listen up: The rights of free speech, press, assembly and petitioning of the government do not come with a footnote excluding public employees or groups of public employees. The U.S. Supreme Court agrees. In “Citizens United,” the court ruled that corporations — including labor unions — may spend their own money for political activities.

Passing frivolous laws with catchy names may be cheap catharsis for hypocrites, but as a celebration of freedom, it’s shameful and pathetic. If lawmakers wish to celebrate freedom, they must lead by example. True freedom fighters stand against efforts to silence and disenfranchise any group of citizens.