Statement on Senate Vote Defeating S. 2747

Nearly one third of the "Freedom to Vote Act" would regulate speech, not voting

October 20, 2021   •  By IFS Staff   •  
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Washington, DC – The Institute for Free Speech released the following statement in response to today’s vote in the Senate turning aside S. 2747, also known as the “Freedom to Vote Act.” The bill, modeled after the failed H.R 1 and S. 1 proposals from earlier this year, contains hundreds of pages of sweeping restrictions on political speech.

“Despite its name, much of the ‘Freedom to Vote Act’ has nothing to do with voting rights. About a third of the bill proposes an assault on our First Amendment rights,” said Institute for Free Speech President David Keating. “It would be a gift to political insiders and incumbents, and a nightmare for groups of Americans trying to speak.”

S. 2747’s proposed restrictions on speech would transform political debate in America into a bureaucratic process dominated by the establishment. The bill would impose unprecedented and constitutionally suspect regulations on speech about public policy, preventing most nonprofit organizations and experts from effectively advocating for or against legislation. It would force groups that speak about government to publicly expose the personal information of their members, discouraging groups from speaking and subjecting Americans to potential harassment for their beliefs. It would also significantly raise the cost of online advertising about legislation or social causes, removing a popular and cost-effective means of mass communication for small groups.

As political speech becomes more regulated, more dangerous, and more expensive, S. 2747 would also unleash partisan enforcement of the nation’s campaign finance laws. Currently, the bipartisan Federal Election Commission can conduct investigations or find violations of the law when at least one commissioner from both sides agrees. Under S. 2747, the FEC’s general counsel would be empowered to conduct investigations and find violations of the law without bipartisan approval of the commissioners. This structure would undermine fair enforcement of the campaign finance law and turn the general counsel into a federal speech czar.

Finally, the proposal continues to permit the federal government to subsidize political campaigns, forcing Americans to financially support candidates they oppose.

For more information about S. 2747, please read the op-eds by IFS staff below:

About the Institute for Free Speech

The Institute for Free Speech is a nonpartisan, nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization that promotes and defends the First Amendment rights to freely speak, assemble, publish, and petition the government. Originally known as the Center for Competitive Politics, it was founded in 2005 by Bradley A. Smith, a former Chairman of the Federal Election Commission. The Institute is the nation’s largest organization dedicated solely to protecting First Amendment political rights.

IFS Staff

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