A federal proposal that would silence pro-life and conservative campaign speech [the so-called "DISCLOSE" Act, H.R. 5175] is being rushed to a vote this week in Congress. UPDATE, June 18: Today’s vote called off for the DISCLOSE act, details here.
NRLC (our parent group, the National Right to Life Committee) has issued several warnings about this blatant attack on our right to participate in a free government.
Under this proposal, the federal government would dictate to a 75-year old woman with health problems, who holds strong religious convictions and who wishes to promote enactment of the Protect Life Act, that
she is “free” to donate money to a pro-life group to be used for broadcast ads to urge specific elected officials to vote for the bill – but ONLY if she (as a “significant funder”) is willing to submit to the INTIMIDATING REQUIREMENTS: that she appear in those ads herself, and also have her name and address posted on the Internet, so that she can be subjected to verbal abuse or even threats by those who disagree with her views.
Enactment of such a law is not a curb on corruption, but itself a type of corruption – a corruption of the lawmaking power, by which incumbent lawmakers employ the threat of criminal sanctions, among other deterrents, to reduce the amount of private speech regarding the actions of the lawmakers themselves. ” See explanatory, detailed letters from NRLC on May 27 here and June 15 here.
The U.S. Supreme Court had ruled in the Citizens United case, last term, that the First Amendment protects the right of incorporated groups of citizens to communicate with the public to express opinions about the actions of those who hold or seek federal office. (President Obama took a swipe at this decision in his State of the Union speech in which cameras caught Justice Alito mouthing “not true!” in response to Obama.)
Then Democrats–who want the administration and the liberal news media to control political information– drafted this “DISCLOSE” measure and termed it an anti-corruption measure to shed light on nefarious corporate sponsors of political speech.
NRLC legislative director Douglas Johnson, writes, “NRLC is the furthest thing from a “shadow” group. Our name and contact information always appear on public communications, and we openly proclaim the public policies that we advocate [as do we at Kansas for Life]. But there is very little in this DISCLOSE bill that provides useful or necessary information to the public.
The overriding purpose is precisely the opposite: To discourage, as much as possible, disfavored groups (such as NRLC) from communicating about officeholders, by exposing citizens who support such efforts to harassment and intimidation, and by smothering organizations in layer on layer of record keeping and reporting requirements, all backed by the threat of civil and criminal sanctions.”
The right to private speech guaranteed by the First amendment also insures the anonymity of those who share disfavored opinions. Yet that right to privacy is thrown out the window by campaign finance reformers. The intention of campaign finance reformers is always expressed as “helping” the public. But such laws choose certain entities to elevate (mainstream corporate media and government) and others to hog tie (pro-life and pro-family traditional voices).
Kansas First District Congressional candidate Sen. Tim Huelskamp (R-Fowler) and Lt. Gov. candidate Jeff Colyer (R-Olathe) successfully assailed a similar Senate “campaign reform” proposal as unconstitutional in floor debate this past term. Once again, the measure was spearheaded by anti-life and anti-traditional family advocates.
Ironically, this campaign-reformer crowd that sees no privacy problem with online publication of a citizen’s name, personal info and political opinions has been the loudest in screaming about purported threats to privacy from prosecutors obtaining abortion files!
Former Kansas governor Kathleen Sebelius, her hand-chosen Attorneys General, and her appointed-majority on the current state Supreme Court (particularly Justice Carol Beier) believe legal subpoenas for abortion records in criminal actions are off limits. Abortion records’ purported threat to privacy has been invoked to stall felony prosecutions and to veto sensible legislation– even though such records are edited and no women’s names from the files have been discovered. (Read more in recent KFL newsletter, pg. 16-17)
Liberals seem concerned about personal privacy rights only for abortionists and their clients. Pro-life citizens must protect their own Constitutional right to free speech and to support issue-advocacy groups like NRLC and KFL –without intimidation. Take action here.