Communications Department

NRLC Letter to U.S. House members against discharge petition on Shays-Meehan bill

Jul 22, 2001 | Free Speech Issues

July 22, 2001

RE: In opposition to discharge petition on Shays-Meehan bill

Dear Member of Congress:

The National Right to Life Committee (NRLC) strongly opposes the Shays-Meehan bill (H.R. 2356), because of multiple provisions that would greatly impair the rights of NRLC and its affiliates to effectively inform the public about legislative events in Congress, and would place both such organizations and members of Congress at legal risk for engaging in constitutionally protected communications regarding public policy issues. Our past letters and memos explaining our objections in detail are archived on our website at .

On July 19, Congressman Jim Turner and certain other supporters of the Shays-Meehan bill filed a rule resolution (H. Res. 203) that is the first step in launching a discharge petition to force the bill to the House floor. NRLC respectfully urges you not to sign such a discharge petition. The resolution would permit consideration of three alternatives to H.R. 2356, but the petition is being promoted by those who are determined to enact the Shays-Meehan bill. (H. Res. 203 provides that Mr. Shays’ own substitute amendment will prevail even if one of the other substitutes, such as the Ney-Wynn substitute, receives the same number of votes.) At a minimum, signing the discharge petition demonstrates a willingness to subject the First Amendment rights of NRLC and NRLC’s affiliates to the hazards of legislative Russian roulette.

Because of the serious adverse effects that enactment of the Shays-Meehan bill would have on NRLC and NRLC affiliates, NRLC intends to keep its affiliates, members, and supporters well informed regarding status of any discharge petition, including periodic dissemination of the names of petition signers through the National Right to Life News and other channels, with explanatory material on how the discharge petition would advance legislation that places in peril the rights and goals of our organizations.

If the Shays-Meehan bill does reach the House floor, by discharge petition or otherwise, NRLC intends to include the roll call or roll calls that determine the disposition of that legislation in our scorecard of key roll calls for 2001. Thank you for your consideration of NRLC’s position on this matter.


Douglas Johnson
Legislative Director

(202) 626-8820

Categories: Free Speech Issues