Romney Campaign: First Amendment Doesn’t Protect Iranian President

Campaign Bristles at Notion Ahmadinejad's Comments Are Protected Speech

With just two weeks left until the election, the Romney campaign is reacting aggressively to suggestions that Romney’s promise to prosecute Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for “incitement” for his anti-Israel comments fly in the face of America’s First Amendment tradition of freedom of speech.

“The First Amendment, like the US Constitution, protects US citizens and residents from overreaching by our government. It does not protect our foreign state adversaries,” the Romney campaign insisted.

Romney campaign officials insisted that not only could the International Criminal Court be brought into play to try Ahmadinejad for his speeches, but also insisted that US courts could also be “appropriate” venues for such a trial.

While the US government’s record of following the constitution’s First Amendment is far from spotless, attempting to arrest a foreign leader on charges of criminal speech would be unprecedented, to say the least, in American history. Experts also say that despite the campaign’s claims to the contrary, US courts was almost certainly treat Ahmadinejad’s comments as protected speech.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.