April 2, 2001
volume 12, no. 92

Senate Will Vote Monday on McCain-Feingold

    [Pro-Life Infonet Note: On Monday, the U.S. Senate will vote on the McCain-Feingold bill that would restrict the free speech rights of pro-life organizations. The following is a recent letter from National Right to Life to members of the U.S. Senate that briefly explains some of the ways the legislation adversely affects pro-life groups that are involved in legislations and elections. Please take a few minutes to call your Senators' office Monday morning to urge opposition to the bill. You can reach the Capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121 or go to to find additional contact information for your Senators.]

Dear Senator:

    The amending process on the McCain-Feingold bill has produced a bill that would violate the constitutional rights of our organization, our affiliates, and our members to an even greater degree than the bill as introduced. Therefore, the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC) urges you to vote against final passage of the bill.

    Because the bill would greatly impair our right to effectively inform the public about events in Congress, and would place both our organization and members of Congress at legal risk for engaging in constitutionally protected communications regarding public policy issues, NRLC will include the vote on final passage of S. 27 in our scorecard of key votes for the 107th Congress.

    Among the most objectionable provisions of the amended bill are those dealing with issue advocacy and "coordinated activity."

    As amended by the Wellstone Amendment, Section 201 of the bill bans NRLC, NRLC affiliates, and all other 501(c)(4) advocacy corporations (not PACs) from funding TV or radio ads that even mention the name of a local member of Congress for 30 days before a state's congressional primary, and for another 60 days before the general election (or a runoff election). For example, if the House of Representatives takes up a bill to ban partial-birth abortions on March 4, 2002, NRLC would be prohibited from running ads the week before the vote on Christian radio stations in the districts of "swing vote" House members in California, Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Texas, urging, "Please call Congressman _______and urge him to vote for the bill to ban partial-birth abortions."

    The section on "coordinated activity" (Section 214) would place both incumbent senators and advocacy groups at legal risk for engaging in cooperative or parallel activities in support of common legislative goals. A single communication to the public by an organization that reflected a "general or particular understanding with a candidate" would establish an irrevocable condition of "coordination" between the organization and the senator for an entire six-year term. Any subsequent activity by the organization deemed to be "of value" to the senator would constitute an illegal campaign "contribution." Moreover, the bill (p. 30-31) would require the senator to report all such "coordinated" activity by the organization, even though he may have had no knowledge of the activity.


David N. O'Steen, Ph.D.
Executive Director

Douglas Johnson
Legislative Director
National Right to Life Committee

April 2, 2001
volume 12, no. 92
Pro Life News
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