July 26, 2010 Print

Senate Votes This Week on DISCLOSE Act, Kagan Nomination; Family Groups on High Alert

by Catherine Snow

With two weeks remaining before the Aug. 9 recess, the U.S. Senate is poised to make two votes that will impact every American – directly or indirectly – the DISCLOSE Act and Elena Kagan’s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court.


The DISCLOSE Act – an acronym for Democracy is Strengthened by Casting Light on Spending in Elections – will be voted on in the Senate Tuesday afternoon at 2:45 p.m. EDT.

President Obama pushed this afternoon for the bill’s passage, which actually hinges on the decisions of the two Republican senators from Maine – Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins.

In an ironic twist, pro-family groups and the American Civil Liberties Union – enduring opponents on nearly every issue – both oppose the measure on the grounds that it will impede free speech by disproportionately suppressing small organizations and nonprofits with untenable restrictions, reporting requirements and violating donor anonymity.

Michael Swartz with Americans for Limited Government (ALG) recently blogged, “The poster children for this may be proponents of California’s Proposition 8, which overturned the state’s court-ordered recognition of same-sex marriage. Even small contributors to that cause have been targets for harassment by opponents bitter that the repeal passed at the ballot box and hasn’t been overturned in court.”

Derek V. Baker, director of congressional affairs for ALG, said Sen Majority Leader Harry Reid, D- Nev., “should admit that DISCLOSE is a thinly veiled attempt to rig the upcoming election cycle in favor of unions and Democrats and further undermine the free speech afforded to all Americans by the Constitution.”

Hans von Spakovsky, senior legal fellow at The Heritage Foundation’s Center for Legal and Judicial Studies and former board member of the Federal Elections Commission, said this bill would be devastating and is a calculated move to throw the November elections into chaos.

“If this bill passes, it will become effective within 30 days, which will cause such confusion and chaos only two months before the fall congressional elections,” he said, “that many corporations – both profit and nonprofit and incorporated associations – will, no doubt, stay out of the election and stay out of grassroots activity on other bills and issues being considered by Congress before November.

“But then, there is little doubt that deterring such activity that could lead to criticism of the positions and votes taken by incumbent senators and representatives is an intentional objective.”

Laura W. Murphy, ACLU federal legislative director, said, “Public discourse and debate is a cornerstone of our democracy and our Constitution ensures the right of individuals to engage in these conversations without being exposed to unnecessary risks of harassment or embarrassment. The only way to bring positive change to our elections is to promote reforms that respect free speech and do not limit it. We urge the Senate to vote down this well-intentioned but overly broad legislation.”


The other major Senate vote involves the confirmation of Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court.

On Friday, Republican Sen. Susan Collins from Maine joined Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Dick Lugar from Indiana in declaring their support for Kagan.

Americans United for Life Action and more than 30 organizations have joined together calling for “thorough investigation” into Kagan’s discrepancies concerning her role in the Clinton-era posturing on partial-birth abortion before a Senate floor vote occurs.

The Senate votes on the DISCLOSE Act Tuesday at 2:45 p.m. EDT. Please don’t delay! Ask your senators to vote “No” on the DISCLOSE Act (H.R.4899/S.3628).

Sign the petition against Kagan.

Read Sen. Schumer’s DISCLOSE Act.

Read Politico’s “DISCLOSE Act’s fate uncertain.”

Read Hans von Spakovsky’s blog, DISCLOSE Act Assault on First Amendment Continues.

Read a copy of the letter sent from the ACLU to Senate, concerning the DISCLOSE Act.

Read Michael Swartz complete blog, “Saying no to DISCLOSE.”

Read the group letter signed by more than 30 organizations.