Democrats Block McConnell Amendment to Protect Citizens’ Free Speech Rights and Privacy
‘Our nation has a long and important history with the subject of associational privacy. The idea is that Americans are free to form private groups around their interests and values — and neither nosy neighbors nor nosy bureaucrats are entitled to know who believes what unless individuals choose to go public.’
WASHINGTON, D.C. – At today’s Senate Rules Committee Markup of S1, commonly referred to as the ‘Democrat Politician Protection Act,’ Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) offered an amendment designed to protect citizens’ free speech rights and privacy:
“This bill is riddled with a variety of different efforts to give Washington D.C. more control and more power over the free speech of American citizens.
“Some of this is overt. S. 1 would give the newly-partisan FEC major new authorities to police the First Amendment speech of citizens and groups, far above and beyond the regulations that are already in place. A lot more speech would get swept under the feds’ umbrella.
“There are also efforts to chill free speech that are more indirect, but still sinister.
“Our nation has a long and important history with the subject of associational privacy.
“The idea is that Americans are free to form private groups around their interests and values — and neither nosy neighbors nor nosy bureaucrats are entitled to know who believes what unless individuals choose to go public.
“In 1958, the NAACP took this issue all the way to the Supreme Court and won a landmark case against the state of Alabama.
“More than 60 years ago, folks understood that when the government tries to force private organizations to publicize their supporters, the First Amendment is the biggest loser.
“Our current, hyper-politicized climate is the last time we can afford to forget these lessons.
“In a world where Americans with unfashionable views are subjected to online harassment… where strangers come after people’s employment for expressing views… the same privacy rights that the NAACP fought for 60 years ago remain paramount.
“That’s why my First Amendment and privacy concerns with so many parts of this bill have been echoed by folks that might surprise you.
“In a recent Washington Post op-ed, lawyers from the liberal American Civil Liberties Union warned that aspects of the bill before us, quote, ‘could directly interfere with the ability of many to engage in political speech about causes that they care about and that impact their lives.’
“My amendment would cut pieces of this legislation that are designed to directly increase government power over Americans’ free speech or indirectly chill that exercise.
“It cuts out invasive disclosure requirements that attack citizens’ privacy, the expanded FEC jurisdiction into broad new categories of speech, and the provisions designed to let federal authorities like the IRS target political organizations they don’t like for undue scrutiny.
“I encourage my colleagues to support McConnell Amendment 2.”
Related Issues: First Amendment