Former FEC Chair Brad Smith published an op-ed today in the National Review today entitled: “The First Amendment Is Lucky to Have Mitch McConnell.” That is both a great headline and an accurate salute to the Republican Senate Leader at a time when Democrats have declared war on the First Amendment through the Corrupt Politicians Act (H.R.1/S.1). That said, a key part of Senator McConnell’s leadership on the First Amendment is not partisan:
Surprisingly few elected officials are willing to come to the defense of campaigns and other organized efforts to effect change. Americans celebrate their freedoms to speak and organize into groups, but once an organization achieves success, support for its rights tends to give way to concerns about “influence.” It’s rare to find politicians who support equally the freedom to speak of the NRA and the Brady Campaign, the League of Conservation Voters and the Chamber of Commerce, or pro-life groups and Planned Parenthood.
For over a quarter century, Mitch McConnell has stood as the Senate’s most consistent, articulate, and dogged defender of the First Amendment rights these organizations rely on. Way back in 1994, he engineered the defeat of a bill to fund campaigns with Americans’ tax dollars, a policy that remains at the top of the progressive agenda today and that reappears in S. 1. He has frustrated bad ideas from the right, too, such as in 2006, when he was one of only three Senate Republicans to oppose an amendment to the U.S. Constitution permitting the criminalization of flag-burning. That amendment fell just one vote short.Read more
On Wednesday, Senate Democrats announced their version of the "For the People Act" (a.k.a. the "Corrupt Politicians Act"). The Corrupt Politicians Act represents a permanent, partisan power grab by Democrats who will do what they can to keep Democrats in power at any cost. his Friday, RNLA will host a webinar featuring Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill and the Chairman of the Institute for Free Speech, Bradley Smith, to discuss the kind of litigation we might expect if parts of the Corrupt Politicians Act are passed or if President Biden forces measures through executive action.
One of the most prominent concerns with the Act is how it will restrict the freedom of speech of Americans. As Professor Smith wrote with IFS President David Keating:
Proponents of H.R. 1 say they want to make democracy work for the people, a popular but meaningless cliché. In reality, H.R. 1 creates new burdens on your rights, as Americans, to speak, assemble, and petition the government.
The threats to free speech in the so-called “For the People Act” span hundreds of pages and are too numerous to cover in their entirety here. But the short version is this: The bill makes speaking easier for politicians and harder for American citizens. It subsidizes politicians’ campaigns while allowing elected officials and their allies to compile enemies lists of private supporters of causes they don’t like. It imposes crushing regulatory burdens on groups that speak about elections, government or legislation.
The groups citizens rely on to monitor Washington and voice their concerns — such as the ACLU, the NRA, the Sierra Club and countless others — will be newly shackled. As just one example, the bill would regulate any “public communication” that “promotes, supports, attacks or opposes” any candidate. Groups will be scratching their heads trying to figure out what qualifies.Read more
If there is one thing that unites those concerned with free speech; open fair and honest elections; libertarians and conservatives; and the GOP and ACLU; it is opposition to HR1. Today we’ll highlight three groups opposition.
First, we want to highlight the opinions of those who know elections best, the Secretaries of State who wrote a letter opposing HR 1:
We are writing you today to urge you to reject the “For the People Act” otherwise known as H.R. 1 or S. 1, which is a dangerous overreach by the federal government into the administration of elections.
Each state legislature should have the freedom and flexibility to determine practices that best meet the needs of their respective states. A one-size-fits-all approach mandated by Congress is not the solution to any of our problems.
These bills intrude upon our constitutional rights, and further sacrifice the security and integrity of the elections process. We firmly believe the authority to legislate and regulate these changes should be left with the states.Read more
Just like in 2019, Democrats have made sweeping election reforms their top priority for this Congress. One of the most alarming parts of the legislation is its massive restrictions on Americans' freedom of speech. As the Institute for Free Speech's Luke Wachob explained:
Once again, House and Senate Democrats have made it their top legislative priority to limit First Amendment rights, expose Americans to harassment and intimidation for their beliefs, crack down on political speech on the internet, pump millions of tax dollars into politicians’ campaigns, and transform the enforcement of federal campaign finance law into a partisan endeavor. The bill’s cheerleaders, meanwhile, have made it their top priority to lie to the public about the proposal.Read more
Recently, we marked the ten year anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, 558 U.S. 310 (2010). We continue to hear a lot about this decision in the mainstream media, with some Democratic candidates describing it as a threat to American democracy, launching attacks on any candidate - liberal, socialist or otherwise - that will take money or support from political action committees (PACS) of any kind.Read more
You would think House Democrats' first bill would be something that polled well for their base or that the public cared about. Or maybe it would be something crazy and liberal like unofficial House Democrat spokesperson Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's idea for “reparations...for...the New Deal.” Nope. In HR 1 House Democrats made their first bill since gaining control of the House about limiting speech (and therefore criticism of them) and rigging election processes in their favor. As House Administration Committee Republicans state:Read more