During the summer of 2020, the Left decided that violence was speech. Presently in Democratic-controlled Washington, D.C., the Left is desperately attempting to portray speech as violence.

But with the recent leak of the Supreme Court decision regarding Roe v. Wade, the Left is set on a path, once again, of supporting violence as a form of speech.

The only consistency in the Left’s approach to the use of government power is to use that power to benefit political friends and to harm political enemies. In his book Animal Farm, George Orwell explains that the dystopia of authoritarianism is welcomed when equal protection is eroded through the expansion of government authority. Similarly, under the Biden administration, everyone is equal, but some are more equal than others.

In 2016, Christine Pelosi, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s daughter, led a project called the Hamilton Electors. She received substantial funding to delay the Electoral College vote for Donald Trump. She attempted to get electors to violate state law and vote for candidates not certified as the winner in their state. Pelosi justified this “interference with an official government proceeding” based on the discredited Steele dossier and its false claim that evidence existed of Trump's collusion with Russia. This dossier was commissioned, paid for, and promoted by the Hillary Clinton campaign.

But that wasn’t all. The Left also organized dozens of protests in major U.S. cities to influence the electors to break state law, resulting in vandalism and violence. Funding for this enterprise was provided by the same cabal that poured hundreds of millions of dollars into our elections in 2020 to convert improperly government election offices in the urban core of swing states into partisan turnout efforts for then-candidate Joe Biden.

And of course, we still remember the efforts to delay, blockade, and prevent the confirmation hearings of Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

Clearly, anyone who commits violence should be prosecuted. But the Left, and at times the Right, is now directly chilling free speech through intimidation and the weaponization of government institutions against political speech. This is not, as the lazy, nonthinking leftstream media like to claim, merely condemning shouting “fire!" in a crowded theater.

Political speech is nothing like that. It is the lifeblood of our representative republic. Vigorous debate about the truth of what happened in 2020 and allowing such debate is healthy and must be protected, just as discussions about the 2016 election and the confirmation of Supreme Court justices should be protected. Christine Pelosi and her donors should not be investigated nor intimidated — nor should MAGA supporters who did not plan or participate in violence in 2020.

When the Constitution was ratified in 1789, there were 58 federal crimes. A few years back, Congress asked the Congressional Research Service to count all federal crimes. After two years of work, the CRS reported to Congress that it was impossible to determine the number — there are simply too many to tabulate. Today’s criminal laws are so vast, ambiguous, and in many cases without a requirement of wrongful intent that an individual targeted by the vast power of the state could be sent to prison for engaging in a morally praiseworthy act that they did not know constituted a crime.

And today, we increasingly witness both political parties trying to harness this power and ambiguity to punish their political opponents, not at the ballot box but by arrest — from MAGA chants of “lock her up” to the Jan. 6 committee’s intimidation campaign, which extends far beyond a concern about violent acts during the Capitol riot. Our political class and the media have let us down by running to the extremes of cancel culture rather than residing in the “radical American middle” of respecting the intrinsic value of every individual by allowing free expression.

Governments that act first to prevent domestic challenges are authoritarian and the historical norm. Governments that act first to protect individual liberty are radically rare.

In 1994, I was part of a political delegation visiting South Korea. I was surprised by the large number of members of their national legislature who had served time in prison. It was explained to me that the political parties in South Korea, if successful at the ballot box, frequently use their powers to imprison their political opponents. I was informed that both parties were attempting to work together to cease this practice by establishing an independent judiciary and repealing vague criminal laws while protecting individual liberty — much, they said, like the U.S. model.

But since 1994, the United States has moved in the opposite direction. Political speech is no longer free. And now, we are witnessing a direct assault on the independence of the nation's highest court.

Many are calling for the leaker to be criminally prosecuted for “theft of government property” or other crimes facilitated through contorted definitions. Leaking a draft opinion of the Supreme Court should certainly have professional consequences, such as being fired, just as stupid statements should cost a political leader at the ballot box.

But please, let’s stop this madness. Adults on both sides of the political aisle need to join forces soon to stop this circular firing squad, for if they do not cease substituting ambition for principled leadership and “moving the needle” for doing the right thing, our precious freedom of expression will be lost.

No nation will remain free if its people, and particularly its leaders, are not willing to stand for the freedom of those with whom they disagree.

Phill Kline, former attorney general of Kansas, is a law professor at Liberty University and director of The Amistad Project.