The proposal would “empower incumbent federal and state lawmakers to restrict and criminalize speech that is critical of their actions,” NRLC warns in letter to senators
WASHINGTON – The National Right to Life Committee (NRLC), the nation’s oldest and largest pro-life organization, today warned members of the U.S. Senate that it will “scorecard” the upcoming Senate roll call on a proposed constitutional amendment that would allow Congress and each state legislature to restrict or prohibit virtually any type of communications to the public that might “influence elections.”
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) has indicated that he will seek Senate action on the measure on September 8. Fifty (50) Democratic senators have so far expressed support for the measure.
The letter, signed by National Right to Life President Carol Tobias, Executive Director David N. O’Steen, Ph.D., and Legislative Director Douglas Johnson, referred to the proposal as “a radical assault on the Bill of Rights.”
“The dispositive Senate roll call on S. J. Res. 19 will be included in NRLC’s scorecard of key roll call votes of the 113th Congress, with a vote in favor of the amendment accurately described as a vote to empower incumbent federal and state lawmakers to restrict and criminalize speech that is critical of their actions on crucial public policy issues, including abortion,” the letter advised. “. . . One can hardly conceive of language more sweeping than the phrase ‘to influence elections.’ On its face, it could encompass not only communications regarding the actions of individuals who hold or seek elective office – which would be bad enough – but also communications regarding politically charged public policy issues (i.e., issue advocacy). . . . There would be nothing to prevent Congress or a state legislature from crafting restrictions that effectively define one side of a public policy debate as the election-influencing side, and restricting communications to the public that advocate that particular viewpoint.”
The complete letter to the Senate may be viewed or downloaded at: www.nrlc.org/uploads/freespeech/NRLCLetterSJRes19SenateFloor.pdf