ACLU Hails House Committee’s Stand for Free Speech

May 17, 2007 12:00 am

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Washington, DC – The American Civil Liberties Union congratulated the House Judiciary Committee for rejecting a controversial amendment to lobbying reform legislation at a mark-up hearing today. Representatives Marty Meehan (D-MA) and Christopher Shays (R-CT) tried to attach a provision to the bill that would require registration and regulation of citizen campaigns that encourage the general public to lobby Congress. The ACLU believed the language of the amendment was vague and would undermine advocacy and activism, thereby violating the First Amendment.

The following can be attributed to Caroline Fredrickson, director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office:

“Today’s mark up is a victory for free speech. Blocking the Meehan-Shays amendment means that advocacy organizations and citizens alike can freely petition their government. The way that this proposal was written, it looks as though there are some in Congress who are afraid of hearing from those who elected them. Congress should in no way attempt – or even appear to attempt – to muzzle the voices of their constituents.

“Americans should be proud that a bipartisan majority recognized this language as a threat to the First Amendment and resoundingly defeated it. We applaud the House Judiciary Committee for rejecting this poorly-written proposal.”

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