The U.S. House of Representatives has sent shock waves through the pro-life and religious communities after passing the Shays-Meehan campaign finance “reform” legislation. The vote was 240-189, with 41 Republicans voting for the bill.
At a time when most Americans are concerned primarily about the economy and the defense of our nation, our lawmakers – under the guise of doing the people’s will – have approved of this legislation that alleges to take the money out of politics. Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle says he will move quickly to bring up the bill.
Of greatest concern to me is the fact that the Shays-Meehan “reform” bill (HR 2356) will infringe on the rights of individuals and organizations to pay for their own political statements that mention a candidate’s name 60 days prior to a general election and 30 days before a primary. The First Amendment free-speech guarantee apparently does not apply when it comes to specific political speech.
In other words, our speech will be stifled at the most critical times – prior to elections. Shays-Meehan will prevent groups like National Right to Life from purchasing broadcast ads to oppose candidates who announce they favor partial-birth abortion, should news of that candidate’s position take place during the designated time during a campaign.
“This bill does not contain real reform. Instead, this bill strips citizens of their political rights and unconstitutionally attempts to regulate political speech,” said Rep. Tom DeLay, the House GOP whip.
Even the American Civil Liberties Union has condemned Shays-Meehan.
“The diversity of our coalition is testimony to the flaws in the Shays-Meehan concept of campaign finance reform,” said Laura W. Murphy, director of the ACLU Washington National Office. “The bill would, if passed, unconstitutionally muzzle essential political speech.”
To that, I say Amen! And you won’t hear me “Amen-ing” the ACLU very often.
“If the ACLU wanted to use a broadcast ad to urge a ‘Congressman Jones’ to simply vote against a partial-birth abortion bill, under Shays-Meehan we would be forced to form a partisan political action committee, a move completely at odds with our core policy of strict nonpartisanship,” Ms. Murphy added.
You see, the ACLU and Jerry Falwell Ministries should each have the right to voice their political concerns, especially during the late seasons of political campaigns when voters are most interested in learning about the candidates.
While Shays-Meehan proponents claim that “soft money” is now eliminated from the political process – a claim that many experts decry – the almighty media will wield an even greater influence on our citizenry, even though the networks are owned by large corporations with obvious political interests.
Under Shays-Meehan, citizens desiring information from organizations they trust – whether it be the ACLU or Dr. James Dobson’s Focus on the Family – will be shut out because of the severe restrictions on the rights of these groups. This is legislation that only the mainstream media and incumbent politicians could love.
Action Item: The White House has indicated that President Bush would sign the bill. Therefore, the critical battle now lies in the Senate, where 60 votes are needed. Please join me in opposing this bill by calling your senators and politely asking them to vote against the Shays-Meehan campaign finance “reform” legislation. Any member of Congress may be reached by calling the Capitol switchboard: 202-224-3121. You can also find your senator’s website, with their specific contact information online.