June 2, 2014

HSLDA Opposes Proposed Constitutional Amendment
to Limit Free Speech

William A. Estrada, Esq.
Director of Federal Relations


Will Estrada has been leading our efforts to defend homeschooling on Capitol Hill since 2006. As the oldest of eight kids, and a homeschool graduate who married a homeschool graduate, he has a passion for protecting homeschool freedom. Read more >>

Imagine if the U.S. Constitution was amended to give the federal government the power to limit your free speech rights and dictate to what extent you could support or oppose a candidate for elected office?

That’s exactly what will happen if certain members of Congress have their way. S.J. Res. 19, a proposed amendment to the U.S. Constitution “relating to contributions and expenditures intended to affect elections,” was recently introduced to give federal and state governments the power to limit the ability of citizens to contribute to candidates for elected office.

The proposal is intended as a response to recent Supreme Court cases such as Citizens United, which held that the First Amendment’s free speech clause protects the ability of citizens to contribute to candidates. However, S.J. Res. 19 is worded in such a way that if ratified, the ability of ordinary citizens to do something as simple as purchase an ad about a candidate in a local newspaper or print flyers about a member of Congress for distribution to their friends and neighbors could be regulated and limited by the government.

On Tuesday, June 3, the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing to discuss S.J. Res. 19. There are now 41 cosponsors on this proposed constitutional amendment, and 33 cosponsors on the companion amendment in the House of Representatives, H.J. Res. 20. While neither is likely to pass either the House or Senate this year (constitutional amendments need to pass both the House and Senate by a two-thirds vote and then be ratified by three-fourths of the states), HSLDA strongly opposes this proposed constitutional amendment. It is crucial that our elected representatives in Washington, D.C., hear loud and clear from we the people, to leave our nation's Constitution alone.

Action Requested

If your senator is on the Senate Judiciary Committee, please call him or her and explain your opposition to S.J. Res. 19.

The Senate Judiciary Committee members can be found at this link, and are also listed below.

Senator Patrick Leahy (VT) 202-224-4242
Senator Chuck Grassley (IA) 515-228-1145
Senator Diane Feinstein (CA) 202-224-3841
Senator Charles Schumer (NY) 202-224-0420
Senator Dick Durbin (IL) 202-224-2152
Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (RI) 202-224-2921
Senator Amy Klobuchar (MN) 202-224-3244
Senator Al Franken (MN) 651-221-1016
Senator Christopher A. Coons (DE) 202-224-5042
Senator Richard Blumenthal (CT) 202-224-2823
Senator Mazie Hirono (HI) 202-224-2126
Senator Orrin G. Hatch (UT) 202-224-5251
Senator Jeff Sessions (AL) 202-224-4124
Senator Lindsey Graham (SC) 202-224-5972
Senator John Cornyn (TX) 202-224-2934
Senator Michael S. Lee (UT) 202-224-5444
Senator Ted Cruz (TX) 202-224-5922
Senator Jeff Flake (AZ) 202-224-4521

There is no need to identify yourself as a homeschooler. Your message can be as simple as the following:

“I urge you to protect our First Amendment freedom of speech by opposing proposed constitutional amendment S.J. 19. This amendment provides too much power to government and restricts the ability of ordinary citizens like me from being able to spend my own money to support or oppose a candidate for elected office. Please leave our U.S. Constitution alone!”

In addition, please call or email your two U.S. senators even if they are not on the Judiciary Committee. You can ask for your senators by calling the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121 or by using HSLDA’s Legislative Toolbox.

Background

S.J. Res. 19 is ambiguously written. For instance, Subsection 2, sections 1 and 2 give federal and state governments the power to regulate “the amount of funds that may be spent by, in support of, or in opposition to such candidates.” If passed by the House and Senate and ratified by the states, this constitutional amendment would allow government to regulate or limit any citizen’s expenditure of money to support or oppose a candidate.

For example, the federal government could ban a homeschool association from sending out an email supporting a homeschool mom who is running for Congress. The government could even regulate a simple act such as a friend of a candidate for state board of education buying some paper to print flyers about a candidate’s position on the Common Core

Subsection 2 of Section 3 of S.J. Res. 19 states that “nothing in this article shall be construed to grant Congress the power to abridge the freedom of the press.” While media outlets will be protected, ordinary citizens will not be. Members of Congress who support this proposed constitutional amendment are in fact trying to make it harder for ordinary U.S. citizens to hold their elected officials accountable. This amendment is nothing more than an end-run around the iron-clad protections given to us by our Founders in the First Amendment.

You can see more information about S.J. Res. 19 and read the text here. You can see the companion legislation in the House, H.J. Res. 20, here.

Thank you for standing with us to preserve the First Amendment and protect the integrity of the electoral process. HSLDA is here to see that your rights of free speech are not trampled upon.

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