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Congress Does Not Want YOU to Speak

By Matt Smith

As a father of two, I often find myself asking my children to be quiet at times when I do not want them to speak during in opportune times. Now, in the wake of the very unpopular pro-abortion health care reform, TARP, failed stimulus, and extremely low approval ratings for the institution, Congress this week is attempting to silence our voices from being heard in this year’s elections.

H.R. 5175, the DISCLOSE Act, was introduced in April to legislatively overrule the recent Citizens United Supreme Court decision and narrowly passed the House of Representatives on June 24, 2010 by 219 – 206. The primary author of the legislation is Representative Chris Van Hollen (D, MD-08) who also serves as Chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

The Citizens United ruling was a victory on behalf of those who cherish the fundamental freedoms protected by the First Amendment. The proposed legislation will not ensure free, fair, and transparent elections, but rather create a punitive measure for associations of persons who choose to exercise their right to free political speech as guaranteed by the Constitution, and affirmed by the Supreme Court in the Citizens United v. FEC case.

The bill targets corporations and conveniently exempts traditional Democrat campaign supporters, including unions. Disclaimer requirements and limits on foreign corporations and government contractors target only the political speech of corporations, with no effect on unions including foreign-influenced labor unions, public-employee unions, or government grant recipients.

One key casualty will be grassroots organizations such as Catholic Advocate and other pro-life, pro-family organizations.

In May, nine former Federal Election Commission (FEC) members, spanning thirty-five years of service co-signed a letter to the House of Representatives stating:

“Its disclosure provisions are unnecessary – duplicating information that is readily available to the public or providing information of extremely low informational value at a significant cost in terms of complexity and lack of clarity, especially for grassroots political speech.”

On July 22, 2010, Senator Chuck Schumer (D, NY) began working feverishly to have the DISCLOSE Act moved through the Senate before Congress leaves for their August recess later this week, signed by President Obama, and implemented before the November 2nd elections.

The DISCLOSE Act is an acronym for Democracy is Strengthened by Casting Light on Spending in Elections Act, or in the words of some it should probably be called “Democratic Incumbents Seeking to Contain Losses by Outlawing Speech in Elections”.

The DISCLOSE Act is not about accountability in our elections. This Act is about silencing those who are frustrated with the direction of our country and who want to hold our elected officials accountable for their votes.

Members of the Catholic Advocate community interested in ensuring their voices are not silenced should immediately contact their Senators today.

Matt Smith is Vice President of Catholic Advocate

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