Trump’s favorite attack dog, Rudolph Giuliani is squarely in the running for a cabinet post. Many rightfully shudder at the thought of him as Secretary of State or Attorney General. While Giuliani earned a great deal of good will for his soothing but forceful tone following 9-11, most New Yorkers remember him as an autocratic leader who openly scoffed at the Bill of Rights.
Giuliani believes that many of the problems of society are rooted in an unregulated individualism that has resulted in a moral deregulation that has allowed crime and disorder to run amok, threatening the “quality of life” of everyone else. When he took office in 1994, Giuliani said, “Freedom is not a concept in which people can do anything they want, be anything they can be. Freedom is about authority. Freedom is about the willingness of every single human being to cede to lawful authority a great deal of discretion about what you do.” This could be seen clearly in his efforts to stamp out disorder using the “broken windows” theory. Time and again Giuliani attempted to restrict protests, artistic expression, and public behavior that he found distasteful or politically threatening. All of which is a clear violation of the core precepts of the First Amendment.
In April 1999, Giuliani earned the first “Lifetime Muzzle Award,” from the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression because of his attacks on the First Amendment. According to the Center, “He has stifled speech and press to so unprecedented a degree, and in so many and varied forms, that simply keeping up with the city’s censorious activity has proved a challenge for defenders of free expression.”
During Giuliani’s eight years as mayor, he was sued for violating the First Amendment more than any other past mayor. He was sued 21 times just by the New York Civil Liberties Union, which went on to win all or a significant part of 19 of those cases. These cases dealt with denials of the right to protest, persecution of whistleblowers, abridging freedom of speech, and the refusal to release public documents to the press and public.
In 1998 the NYCLU challenged the constitutionality of the Giuliani administration’s refusal to permit a procession of yellow cabs to proceed across the 59th Street Bridge and through midtown to City Hall to protest changes to rules governing drivers of yellow cabs. Giuliani denied them a march permit and publicly threatened to pull the licenses of any drivers that participated. He proceeded to pull the licenses of several protesting drivers. A federal trial court held that the refusal violated the First Amendment and ordered the city to permit the procession to take place.