John Hinderaker called out Dick Durbin for his stupidity in “Is Dick Durbin the dumbest Democrat?” Recognizing the intensity of the competition for the laurels, John left the question open, but he found Durbin definitely to be in the running.
But Durbin is worse than stupid. He is a bully and a thug. As John recounted, Durbin has been sending out letters to anyone he has determined to have funded the American Legislative Exchange Council since 2005. He wants to know these supporters’ position on “stand your ground” laws, which ALEC (a group of state legislators pushing center-right reform ideas) advocated around the country. Cato’s Ilya Shapiro has a bit more of the background here.
Cato Institute president John Allison has responded to Durbin with a letter that Shapiro quotes in its entirety. Here it is:
Dear Senator Durbin:
Your letter of August 6, 2013 is an obvious effort to intimidate those organizations and individuals who may have been involved in any way with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).
While Cato is not intimidated because we are a think tank—whose express mission is to speak publicly to influence the climate of ideas—from my experience as a private-sector CEO, I know that business leaders will now hesitate to exercise their constitutional rights for fear of regulatory retribution.
Your letter thus represents a blatant violation of our First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and to petition the government for a redress of grievances. It is a continuation of the trend of the current administration and congressional leaders, such as yourself, to menace those who do not share your political beliefs—as evidenced by the multiple IRS abuses that have recently been exposed.
Your actions are a subtle but powerful form of government coercion.
We would be glad to provide a Cato scholar to testify at your hearing to discuss the unconstitutional abuse of power that your letter symbolizes.
Shapiro concludes his post with the in-your-face observation that Cato will be standing its ground. Congrats to Cato and to Allison.