CEI Jo⁠i⁠ns Coal⁠i⁠⁠t⁠⁠i⁠ons Oppos⁠i⁠ng ⁠t⁠he Sena⁠t⁠ors’ “Web of Den⁠i⁠al” Resolu⁠t⁠⁠i⁠on

By: The James Madison Institute / 2016



Dear Senators:

We, the undersigned, have long since known that you have a list—an enemies list ofintellectual foes you wish to isolate. But our policy differences are not why we write. Wewrite today with grave concern over political leadership in a time of deep nationaldivision. We write at a time when free speech and association are more important thanever in our national experiment. How will we, together, solve problems if we cannotspeak? How can you lead when you refuse to listen?

You were elected by the people to build consensus and find compromise—to fiercelydebate the most pressing issues of our day. Often, these debates are meant to becontentious and without a clear solution because innovation comes from greatchallenge. Sadly, our democracy and our freedom hangs in the balance as you use youroffice to bully and single out groups to blame rather than ideas to debate.

Just as you do, our civil society organizations represent many, many millions ofAmericans and a wide array of perspectives and interests. They deserve and increasinglydemand healthy and respectful political dialogue, and well-informed, well-debatedpublic policies. To support the debate our founders intended, all Americans have theright to support causes they believe in without fear of threats from overzealousgovernment officials—threats paraded and perpetrated by you on the Senate floor.

The delicate balance of our democracy is preserved when all groups are free to speak inthe public square, and ALL Americans should be concerned when agents of the
government use their official offices to marginalize political foes.

Your enemies list groups together organizations that themselves maintain differingperspectives. While you have singled us out, labeling us as the enemy, we don’t evenalways agree with one another. And that’s the point:disagreement breeds solutions.

We hear you. Your threat is clear: There is a heavy and inconvenient cost to disagreeingwith you. Calls for debate will be met with political retribution. That’s called tyranny.

And, we reject it.

At the birth of our nation, patriots asserted their right to speech and broke British law indoing so. King George used the full force of the British crown to suppress the rebellion—to suppress speech. In spite of the tyrant’scommands and because they had put theirlives on the line to defend their rights, the patriots enshrined free speech in ourfounding documents; the same documents that gave you your job.

In a country where you should be the patriots leading us into a great future, sadly todayyou are the tyrants.


Grover Norquist
Americans for Tax Reform

Lisa B. Nelson
American Legislative ExchangeCouncil

John A. Charles, Jr.
Cascade Policy Institute

David Rothbard
Committee for a ConstructiveTomorrow

Kent Lassman
Competitive Enterprise Institute

Nicole Neily
Franklin Center for Governmentand Policy Integrity

Benita Dodd
Georgia Public PolicyFoundation

Bridgett Wagner
The Heritage Foundation

Fred Birnbaum
Idaho Freedom Foundation

Joseph Bast
The Heartland Institute

J. Robert McClure III
James Madison Institute

Brett Healy
The John K. MacIver Institutefor Public Policy

Kory Swanson
John Locke Foundation

Dave Trabert
Kansas Policy Institute

Jason Hayes
Mackinac Center for PublicPolicy

Brent Mead
Montana Policy Institute

Sharon J. Rossie
Nevada Policy ResearchInstitute

Sally Pipes
Pacific Research Institute

Kevin Kane
Pelican Institute for PublicPolicy

Paul J. Gessing
Rio Grande Foundation

Lynn Taylor
Virginia Institute for PublicPolicy

Carol Platt Liebau
Yankee Institute for PublicPolicy