Monday, April 2, 2001, 6:30 p.m. (202) 626-8820, (202) 626-8825
Right to Life Applauds 41 Senators
Who Voted to Defend Free Speech By Citizen Groups
WASHINGTON - The National Right to Life Committee (NRLC) commended the 41 senators who voted against the McCain-Feingold bill. The bill passed the Senate 59-41.
"The senators who opposed the bill took a courageous stand to defend citizen groups' First Amendment right to free speech about politicians," said NRLC Legislative Director Douglas Johnson. "They defended the First Amendment in the face of strong pressure from the institutional news media, Hollywood, and elitist special-interest groups like Common Cause."
In a letter sent to senators today, NRLC explained that the bill, as amended, would ban NRLC, NRLC affiliates, and all other 501(c)(4) advocacy corporations (not PACs) from funding TV or radio ads that even mention the name of a local member of Congress for 30 days before a state's congressional primary, and for another 60 days before the general election (or a runoff election). Thus, for example, if the House of Representatives takes up a bill to ban partial-birth abortions on March 4, 2002, NRLC would be prohibited from running ads the week before the vote on Christian radio stations in the districts of "swing vote" House members in California, Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Texas, urging, "Please call Congressman _______and urge him to vote for the bill to ban partial-birth abortions." If courts strike down this provision, an amendment added by Senator Specter would attempt to place a year-round restriction on ads that discuss politicians' positions.
Another amendment would place year-round restrictions on communications deemed to be "in connection with" an election, even when the sponsoring groups are acting without any "collaboration or agreement" with a candidate. This restriction would apply to print communications and telephone calls, as well as broadcast ads.
For further information on how the McCain-Feingold bill would interfere with the right of citizen groups to communicate with the public about what members of Congress are doing, see www.nrlc.org/Federal/Free_Speech/index.html and www.jamesmadisoncenter.org.
The National Right to Life Committee is the nation's major pro-life organization, representing affiliates in all 50 states.