The U.S. Senate Democrat majority failed to push through a federal bill that would “gag” the free flow of candidate information, S.3628. Passage was opposed by Kansans for Life and National Right to Life. UPDATE, Sept.23: The Senate failed to allow another vote to take place on the DISCLOSE act.
Rushed through without hearings, and almost certainly unconstitutional, this misnamed “DISCLOSE” bill was NOT a public citizen-serving election reform, but a roundly criticized vehicle to favor certain establishment interest groups and shut down real information voters needed.
The required on-air disclaimers in DISCLOSE would take up nearly half of every 30 second television ad. Why should the government hijack political informational messages –given all the other disclosure already required by the law?
Most of the disclosure provisions of DISCLOSE have never gone before the Supreme Court, or indeed any court. One provision prevents expedited court review before the upcoming elections!
The Court has allowed more flexibility in the realm of campaign finance, true, but it has never given Congress a blank check to legislate in the area, and it should be remembered that the general First Amendment rule is that the government may not compel speech.
Beyond disclosure, the other big argument – the one the President demogogued yesterday– is that DISCLOSE is necessary to prevent foreign influence in campaigns. Here it is once more worth noting that any corporation that is headquartered or incorporated outside of the U.S. is already prohibited from any spending in any U.S. political campaign.
Senate majority leader Harry Reid voted against the bill only to be allowed procedurally to make a motion to reconsider it if they can muscle Sen. Lieberman and others to change their opinion. Thus, the fight to adopt this bill is not over.