Communications Department

National Right to Life will score U.S. Senate vote On Democrats’ constitutional amendment to curb political speech

Jun 23, 2014 | 2014 Press Releases

The proposal “would replace the First Amendment with…an oligarchy,”
NRLC warns in letter to senators

WASHINGTON – The National Right to Life Committee (NRLC), the nationwide federation of state pro-life organizations, today warned members of the U.S. Senate that it will “scorecard” the upcoming Senate roll call on a proposed constitutional amendment that would remove First Amendment protections for virtually any type of communications to the public that might “influence elections.”

The proposal, S. J. Res. 19, was expanded by a Senate Judiciary subcommittee on June 18. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nv.) has indicated that the full Senate will vote on the measure later this year. In a letter sent to senators today, NRLC explained that the revised proposal “confers power on Congress and state legislatures to ration or even criminalize . . . even speech that does not mention candidates or political parties,” if the speech might “influence elections.” The letter notes, “It should be obvious that any type of public communication on pending political issues, or commentary on those who hold or seek political office, may ‘influence elections,’ so the proposal effectively would cut the heart out of the First Amendment.”

The letter notes that a second, overlapping clause “would grant political officeholders unlimited power to prohibit any criticism, direct or indirect, from issue-oriented groups of any ideological stripe, including the National Right to Life Committee.”

A third clause, which purports to preserve freedom of “the press,” would “replace the First Amendment with constitutional protection for an oligarchy” and would invite “systematic abuse, including defacto political alliances between certain favored media/entertainment corporations and certain politicians, and/or intimidation of media outlets that may fear loss of their privileged ‘press’ status . . .”

The letter, signed by NRLC President Carol Tobias, Executive Director David N. O’Steen, and Legislative Director Douglas Johnson, says that any senator who votes for the proposed amendment is voting “to empower elected lawmakers, federal and state, to restrict and criminalize speech that is critical of their positions and votes on crucial public policy issues, including abortion,” and that the Senate roll call will be included in NRLC’s widely followed “scorecard” of key roll call votes of the 113th Congress.

The complete NRLC letter to the Senate may be viewed or downloaded:

Founded in 1968, National Right to Life, the federation of 50 state right-to-life affiliates and more than 3,000 local chapters, is the nation’s oldest and largest grassroots pro-life organization. Recognized as the flagship of the pro-life movement, NRLC works through legislation and education to protect innocent human life from abortion, infanticide, assisted suicide and euthanasia.