Right to Life to Senate: Defeat Disclose Act, Places Limits on Pro-Life Groups
by Steven Ertelt
July 23, 2010
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — The National Right to Life Committee is again asking members of the Senate to defeat the DISCLOSE Act, the campaign finance reform bill. The pro-life organization says the bill places such onerous limits on pro-life groups that they would have problems getting their message out.
The Senate is scheduled to a cloture vote on Tuesday on whether to take a vote on the bill (S. 3628).
With that in mind, the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC) today sent senators a letter characterizing the bill as "a blatant political attack on the First Amendment rights of NRLC, our state affiliates, and our members and donors."
The letter advises members that the limits are so problematic, NRLC is forced to include a roll call of the vote in the annual ratings of Congress it provides to millions of pro-life voters.
The bill would codify a vague and expansive definition of express advocacy under which any expenditure for a public communication that takes a position on a candidates character, qualification, or fitness for office might be deemed to be an independent expenditure and therefore subject to numerous burdensome and intrusive regulations.
"The bill applies this vague standard not only to broadcast ads very near elections, but to any public communication broadcast or print at any time of the year, and even to paid ads on the Internet," the letter complains.
NRLC says the bill of so-called electioneering communications, which is a broadcast communication that merely mentions the name of a member of Congress, "will now trigger sweeping and burdensome regulations beginning 120 days (four months) before a general election a dramatic expansion of the current law (which applies 30 days before a primary and 60 days before a general election)."
One of those regulations involves NRLC and other pro-life groups having to identify donors publicly anytime it runs communications in certain times that ask people to contact Congress about legislation related to pro-life concerns.
That, NRLC says, would "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."
"For example, an organization that sponsors a single radio ad costing $10,000 or more that says no more than, Call Senator Jones urge him to support the First Amendment by voting no on S. 3628 would be required to publicly identify every donor of more than $1,000 to the organization (whether or not the donation was spent on the ad) throughout the year," the letter explains.
"Our members and supporters have a right to support our public advocacy about important and controversial issues without having their identifying information posted on the Internet, exposing them to harassment or retribution by those who may disagree with their beliefs," the pro-life group says.
Ultimately, NRLC says the bill "has been carefully crafted to maximize short-term political benefits for the dominant faction of one political party, while running roughshod over the First Amendment protections for political speech that have been clearly and forcefully articulated by the U.S. Supreme Court."
Related web sites:
National Right to Life – https://www.nrlc.org
NRLC letter – https://www.nrlc.org/FreeSpeech/NRLCLetterToSenateOnDISCLOSEAct.pdf
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