The Senate’s Committee on Rules and Administration Chairwoman Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) has announced she is holding a hearing Wednesday, March 24th at 10:00 AM ET on H.R.1/S.1, the Democrats’ misnamed “For the People Act.”
This is the first announced Senate hearing on the Democrats’ plan to do away with your freedom of speech, and if you were hoping the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration would act to correct the outrages that are central provisions of the House-passed bill, think again.
We have two ways you can help stop this disaster: First, go to Act for America’s FreeRoots campaign and use the easy online tools to let Congress know you oppose this Un-American assault on free speech and free and fair elections. Second, call your Senators via the toll-free Capitol Switchboard (1-866-220-0044), urge them politely, but firmly, to oppose H.R. 1/S. 1.
Given that the bill is almost 800 pages long, we have many specific technical and philosophical objections to H.R. 1, but most of them can be distilled down to this: H.R. 1 would set up an Un-American speech police and speech czar to monitor the political speech of everyday Americans.
Under this Democrat scheme any American who might make a political comment on their social media or personal email list, could be subject to regulation and reporting to the government and hefty fines for failure to comply.
This is contrary to the First Amendment and our traditional understanding of freedom of expression.
As we have explained in several articles, the House-passed version of H.R. 1 expands the Czar-like powers of individual government staff people by permitting the General Counsel to issue subpoenas on his or her own authority, rather than requiring an affirmative vote by the Commission.
And to ensure that these new Czars’ word is law, H.R.1 creates new standards of judicial review that weaken the rights of respondents in Commission matters.
If a respondent challenges in court a Commission decision finding that it violated the law, the court will defer to any reasonable interpretation the agency gives to the statute, but if the respondent wins at the Commission, no deference will be given to the FEC’s decision, if challenged in court. This “heads I win, tails you lose” approach harms respondents and biases court decisions against speakers.
In addition to these direct attacks on free speech our friends at People United for Privacy have pointed out the bill also includes:
· Requirements to disclose organization donors would expose citizens to harassment and intimidation.
· Due to complicated disclaimer and reporting requirements, this unfairly impacts start-ups and organizations with limited resources since they would need to consult with attorneys before communicating online.
· Eliminating safeguards placed on the IRS would allow the federal agency to become the “speech police” and target groups they oppose.
· The additional record keeping and compliance for online platforms would increase the cost to communicate online.
· Nonprofits play an important role in the public square by educating Americans – this Act would squelch their speech.
As People United for Privacy pointed out, “the DISCLOSE Act [part of H.R. 1 and S. 1] will expand the definition of political speech subject to complex government regulation. It also will trigger significant donor disclosure requirements for organizations that spend more than $10,000 on ads about policy issues that merely mention a candidate, even if the communication has nothing to do with an election. Groups, including charities, that grant more than $10,000 to another organization that then spends money discussing policy issues also will have to disclose their donors. This aggressive mandate violates Americans’ privacy, facilitates harassment, and will decrease civic engagement.
And, there’s another part of the House-passed bill that should outrage every believer in free speech.
Currently, the Internal Revenue Service is barred from issuing regulations that govern speech and citizen advocacy by nonprofit organizations after being caught systematically harassing right-of-center groups. This bill seeks to repeal that prohibition. Eliminating this safeguard would weaponize the IRS to become the “speech police.” It would also reverse recent reforms that eliminated the requirement that certain nonprofits report the confidential information of their supporters — information the IRS does not need to enforce tax law.
The entire concept of a “speech czar” is completely Un-American and antithetical to the constitutional values of freedom of speech and freedom of the press. To make sure your voice is heard, go to Act for America’s FreeRoots campaign and use the easy online tools to let Congress know you oppose this Un-American assault on free speech and free and fair elections. Then call the toll-free Capitol Switchboard (1-866-220-0044), tell Republican Representatives and Senators you are speaking on behalf of the millions of Americans who cherish and rely on their right to speak freely about political campaigns and issues; tell them you demand they oppose H.R. 1 and S. 1 and the creation of “speech czars” to police political speech.
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Photo “Sen Amy Klobuchar #ForthePeople” by Sen. Amy Klobuchar.