With his First Amendment challenge pending before the Florida Supreme Court, GOP political consultant Pat Bainter issued a rare statement calling out the court after oral arguments today in which he urged the court to keep secret his emails related to redistricting.
Bainter is now suggesting that the "institutional integrity of the court is at stake" in how they rule.
Here's the statement:
Statement on behalf of Pat Bainter, president and owner of Data Targeting, Inc.
“Today’s Supreme Court hearing is the culmination of a legal assault and press sensationalism as to whether or not I, a private citizen, have the right to petition my government without fear of a political inquisition into my private matters. After today's hearing, it is clear to me that, as interpreted by the Florida Supreme Court, Amendments 5 & 6 are unconstitutional because they criminalize political speech based upon its content. One only need to read the Amendments to see that even its authors knew they could not stifle a citizen's free speech when they applied the Amendments only to the Legislature, the Amendment title reading ‘Standards for the Legislature in redistricting.’
“The very institutional integrity of the Florida Supreme Court is at stake in this matter.
“The Democratic Party has poured tens of millions of dollars into this legal assault. The Democrats have manipulated a more than willing legal system to coerce me by legal threat to reveal my private internal political opinions, analysis, expertise and even trade secrets, even though I am neither elected to office nor employed by the Legislature.
“Anonymity is foundational when expressing free speech or petitioning one’s government. When you vote on Election Day, do you not cast your ballot in ‘secret?’ Of course you do, and otherwise, it would suppress voting. When the state Supreme Court decides this matter, will they not be deliberating in ‘secret?’ Why do they need to do so? And, does not the press so often report ‘anonymous sources’ which is to say ‘secret’ sources?
“Fear of personal, political, and even physical reprisals chill the ability of people to speak and associate freely. For this reason, the First Amendment to the United States Constitution recognizes the right to associate anonymously, formulate ideas anonymously and petition government anonymously. Without anonymity, fear would stifle speech, civic indifference would trump civic engagement, the foundations of our representative democracy would erode and our republican form of government could not endure. It is incredibly disappointing that the media refuses to stand up for the First Amendment, particularly in light of the present lethal oppression of free speech rights around the world.
“And, yet, here we are today, the Democratic Party funded legal posse, teamed with a well-funded media team, attempting to obliterate the U.S. Constitution by using legal threat to quell individual citizens from participating in Democracy. I will stand in defiance of these attempts because ending our Democracy is too high a price to pay.”