Campaign for Liberty Chairman Ron Paul’s submitted an official statement on S. 1, the so-called “election reform” bill that violates the First Amendment by limiting the ability of groups like Campaign for Liberty to share information about elected officials' positions on major issues, to the U.S. Senate Committee on Rules and Administration.
The statement will be placed into the official record for the hearing.
Please help stop S. 1 by signing the petition to the Senate. You can sign the petition here.
Statement of Dr. Ron Paul on S. 1 to the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration Hearing on S. 1
March 24, 2021
Chair Klobuchar, Ranking Member Blunt, and Members of the Committee,
Thank you for holding this hearing. I also wish to thank Senator Cruz for inserting my statement into the record.
I am submitting this statement on behalf of Campaign for Liberty’s supporters and activists. Campaign for Liberty is a 501(c)(4) advocacy organization founded in 2008 to educate and mobilize grassroots activists on behalf of limited government and individual liberty.
Simply put, S. 1 interferes with the First Amendment right of American citizens to freely associate with organizations like Campaign for Liberty to affect public policy.
The First Amendment of the Constitution prohibits Congress from making laws that abridge a citizen’s ability to influence government policies. Donating money to support organizations that educate and mobilize activists is one way individuals can influence government policies. Therefore, laws limiting and regulating donations to these groups violate the First Amendment.
One very troubling aspect of S. 1 is the provision forcing organizations involved in “electioneering” to hand over the names of their top donors to the federal government. Electioneering is broadly defined to include informing the public of candidates’ positions and records, even if the group in question focuses solely on advancing issues and ideas. Burdening these types of organizations will make it harder for individuals to learn the truth about candidates’ positions. More importantly, it will limit citizens’ ability to influence how their elected officials vote on key issues.
America has a long and distinguished tradition of anonymous political speech. Both the Federalist and the Anti-Federalist papers were published anonymously.
As Justice John Marshall Harlan wrote in NAACP v. Alabama, 357 U.S. 449 (1958), where the Supreme Court upheld the NAACP’s right to keep its membership list confidential, “Inviolability of privacy in group association may in many circumstances be indispensable to preservation of freedom of association, particularly where a group espouses ‘dissident beliefs.’”
Supporters of groups with “dissident beliefs” have good reason to fear new disclosure laws. In 2014, the IRS had to pay $50,000 dollars to the National Organization for Marriage because an IRS employee leaked donors’ names to the organization’s opponents. This type of harassment will become more common if S. 1 passes.
In recent years, we have seen the rise of authoritarian political movements that think harassment and even violence against those with differing views are acceptable tactics. Can anyone doubt that activists in these movements would do all they could to obtain the lists of donors to groups that oppose their agenda? They may be able to obtain the lists either by hacking government databases or by having a sympathetic federal employee “accidentally” leak the names.
In conclusion, I once again urge the Committee to protect their constituents’ First Amendment rights to influence the policy process. I urge you to oppose S. 1.